Fine Gael members 'disappointed' after former canvasser appointed judge

Fine Gael members 'disappointed' after former canvasser appointed judge

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Fine Gael members are said to be "disappointed" after learning a former party canvasser has been appointed to the Circuit Court.

Mary Morrissey, a solicitor who worked in former justice minister Charlie Flanagan's office, was appointed to the court on the same day former Fine Gael member and Attorney General Seamus Woulfe was appointed to the Supreme Court.

It emerged over the weekend that Ms Morrissey had canvassed for a Fine Gael candidate for Laois, Aisling Moran, in the local elections in 2019.

Justice minister Helen McEntee has said she was unaware of the connection.

On Sunday, members of Fine Gael and TDs made representations to their colleagues of their disappointment in the further revelation after weeks of accusations of cronyism over the Woulfe affair.

It is understood that party members now believe the same questions that were posed over the Woulfe appointment will now be asked of Ms Morrissey's appointment.

Members say there are questions now outstanding over when the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) recommended Ms Morrissey, whether Ms McEntee discussed the appointment with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (as she had "informally" over the Woulfe appointment), and whether she had informed the Taoiseach and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan of the decision to appoint Ms Morrissey.

One senior party source said that "a lot of people in Fine Gael are very annoyed" that the leadership has left the party open to further scrutiny.

"How many other judges were overlooked for this appointment?" the source said.

"Now it seems it wasn't just a once-off stroke. We used to look at Fianna Fáil and laugh and say: 'That's how they do things', and now we're in the same position ourselves.

"People in Fine Gael expect better. It's a complete mess."

Meanwhile, it is expected that the Dáil will vote on whether to impeach Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe for his behaviour during and after the Oireachtas Golf Society scandal, brought by Rise TD Paul Murphy. 

The vote is expected to fail, with Government and largest Opposition party, Sinn Féin, both signalling that they do not believe there are sufficient grounds for impeachment.

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