Ireland: Lawyers back resignation of top judge caught up in ‘golfgate’ scandal

Séamus Woulfe
Séamus Woulfe

Irish lawyers believe that an embattled judge who broke social distancing rules should follow the example of other high-profile figures in the country and resign.

A poll by our sister publication Irish Legal News found that sympathy has ebbed for Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe.

Mr Woulfe has been caught up in Ireland’s ‘golfgate’ scandal after attending an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in August.

Sixty-three per cent of the 243 readers who took part in the ILN survey – which attracted responses from barristers, solicitors, law students and legal academics – said the judge should go.

Barristers and solicitors were virtually on the same page as each other. Among the 97 barrister respondents, 59 per cent said Mr Justice Woulfe should resign; among the 79 solicitor respondents, 58 per cent agreed.

Source: Irish Legal News readers’ survey

The results are unwelcome news for Mr Justice Woulfe ahead of his meeting with Chief Justice Frank Clarke tomorrow, which has been postponed twice, firstly for personal reasons and secondly on medical grounds.

The meeting comes in the wake of a report by former chief justice Susan Denham, who concluded that Mr Justice Woulfe should not have attended the dinner.

She said that he had failed to consider “the advisability of the attendance by a member of the Supreme Court at a celebratory dinner, in a hotel in a public place, at a time of pandemic”.

However, Ms Justice Denham said his resignation from the bench over the matter would be “unjust and disproportionate” and the Chief Justice could instead “deal with this matter by way of informal resolution”.

Tags: Ireland, ILN

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