Tag Archives: Golfgate


Berlin bar Dame Lane, Dublin 2

This evening.

It’s like the 1930s in, er, Berlin.

‘Boozy brunch’ bar loses licence over Covid breaches (RTÉ)


From top: Donie Cassidy and Noel Grealish are being prosecute under the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020

This afternoon.

Further to Golfgate…

Via Independent.ie

Former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy and Independent TD Noel Grealish will be summonsed before a Co Galway district court in relation to allegations that they organised the event.

Mr Cassidy was the chairman of the society and Mr Grealish was the president. The two other people to be prosecuted are not public figures and were involved in the organisation of the dinner at the management at the hotel in Clifden, Co Galway.

Two politicians to be prosecuted for Golfgate dinner Independent.ie)


Mr Justice Woulfe was sitting yesterday for the first time as a judge in the three-judge Court of Appeal alongside Mr Justice Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy. It was his first public hearing since Chief Justice Frank Clarke told him last November that, as a result of his attending a golf event that the chief justice felt had breached public guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19, he would not be listed to sit until February 2021.

Good times.

Justice Seamus Woulfe sits with judge who subjected him to ‘traumatic’ ordeal (BreakingNews)


Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe

This morning.

Further to Golfgate…

Via Independent.ie

Sinn Féin is planning to table legislation which would introduce a cooling-off period for attorney generals before they could put their name forward for a position on senior courts.

The move follows the on-going controversy over the appointment of Fine Gael-supporting Attorney General Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court. Justice Minister Helen McEntee has been under pressure to answer questions on the appointment for three weeks.

However, so far Ms McEntee has refused to give a detailed explanation as to why she chose the long-time Fine Gael supporter for the Supreme Court ahead of three sitting judges. Meanwhile, former Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, who was first told Mr Woulfe applied for the role after the General Election in March, is refusing to comment on his involvement in the controversial appointment.

Attorney generals may have to wait two years before applying for position on Supreme Court under proposed new law (Independent.ie)


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee says that she considered all names put before her for a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Ms McEntee, who was speaking on LMFM radio, said that there were “a number of names put before me” but refused to be drawn on the exact number.

She said there was “collective approval” at the Cabinet meeting when she recommended Justice Seamus Woulfe for the Supreme Court.

McEntee considered ‘a number of names’ for Supreme Court vacancy (RTÉ)

A motion to start a process to impeach Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe is the ‘only option’ open to opposition TDs to ensure accountability, RISE TD Paul Murphy says.

Deputy Murphy is bringing forward the motion in the Dáil this week, which – if passed – would allow TDs to begin examining whether Mr Justice Woulfe should be removed or not.

Motion To Impeach Woulfe Is Only Option Open To Us (Newstalk)


Chief Justice Frank Clarke (left) and Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe

This afternoon.

“While it is important for the Chief Justice to respect the confidentiality and privacy of Mr Justice Woulfe, the correspondence did enclose a cogent medical report to the effect that he is not in a position to take part in the resolution process at this time.

“Accordingly, it was necessary to cancel the meeting.

“The Chief Justice is committed to bringing the process to a conclusion as early as it is possible and appropriate to do so.”

A statement issued on behalf of Chief Justice Frank Clarke

Medical report says Woulfe unable to take part in ‘Golfgate’ resolution process (Independent.ie)

Earlier: Dances With Woulfe

Chief Justice Frank Clarke has criticised Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe for his third postponement of a meeting about his role in Golfgate

This morning.

Further to yesterday’s postponement….

Via Irish Independent.

The Chief Justice and fellow Supreme Court judge Donal O’Donnell had been due to attend the meeting about Golfgate with Mr Justice Woulfe…Mr Justice Woulfe was to have been accompanied by “a judicial colleague of his choice”.

Instead this judge, who was not identified in the statement, met Mr Justice Clarke and Mr Justice O’Donnell and requested a further postponement on Mr Justice Woulfe’s behalf.

A statement from the Chief Justice’s office:

“As a result of what was said at that meeting, the Chief Justice has indicated that, very reluctantly, he is prepared to make one final postponement of the proposed meeting until Thursday,”

“The Chief Justice has indicated his very serious concern as to the damage which the continuation of this process is causing.

“The Chief Justice has made it clear that, should the meeting not go ahead as scheduled on Thursday, he will make alternative arrangements to convey his final views on the process to Mr Justice Woulfe.”

Seamus Woulfe given ultimatum after postponing ‘Golfgate’ meeting for a third time (Independent.ie)


Chief Justice Frank Clarke and Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe

This morning.

Following two postponements, Chief Justice Frank Clarke will attempt to meet Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe again today (hopefully over a splendid lunch) to discuss the Denham Report by former Chief Justice Susan Denham into Justice Woulfe’s attendance at the outing at the centre of Golfgate.

According to Ms Denham’s study of the scandal, Chief Justice Clarke was told by Justice Woulfe of his intention to attend the event.

More as we get it.


Last night.

Chief Justice to meet Seamus Woulfe to discuss Golfgate fallout (Irish Examiner)

Previously: Seamus Woulfe on Broadsheet




Some legal commentators believe Mr Justice Woulfe would be entitled at this stage to tell the Supreme Court he has co-operated with the non-statutory inquiry set up by them and has been vindicated by it.

It is difficult to see how he could be persuaded or legally forced to enter into a resolution process that has no firm legal basis.

Senior judges meet Woulfe, but no resolution yet (RTÉ)

Yesterday: Derek Mooney: Less Justice, More Just Us

Séamus Woulfe on Broadsheet

Images from retired Chief Justice Susan Denham’s report into Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe’s attendance at an Oireachtas golf outing and dinner in August, showing how two suites were separated by a retractable, partition wall at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway

This evening.

Retired Chief Justice Susan Denham’s report into Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe’s attendance at an Oireachtas golf outing in August has been published.

Mr Justice Woulfe told the retired judge that he sat at table 5 in the Omey Suite and sat with his back to the partition wall. He said he did not notice there was a second suite behind the wall.

From the report:

Mr Justice Woulfe stated that during the dinner he was not aware of, and had no reason to believe that, the event consisted of any diners other than those he could see in his dining room. He said he was not conscious of another room of diners in the hotel or any other room connected to the Oireachtas Golf Society.

All of the people whom he associated with the Oireachtas Golf Society event appeared to him to be in the same room with him. He could not hear any noise coming from any adjoining room. Nor was he conscious of any adjoining room. He was sitting facing the front of the room where the top table was and from where the speeches were made.


“The engineer was instructed that the dinner was followed by speeches and a prize giving; that a mobile audio speaker system had been installed in the Kylemore Suite for guests to hear the speeches, and to facilitate the adjustment of volume of the speaker a section of the retractable wall was opened at the time of the speeches and prize giving, which resulted in a narrow opening in the wall between the suites at that stage.”


At the end of the dinner there were speeches and a prize giving. During the prize giving at least one person, who was called on to receive a prize, approached the front of the room in the Omey Suite from Mr Justice Woulfe’s left.

Mr Justice Woulfe [who was in the Omey Suite] stated that this did not give him any cause for concern. After the event, and during the process of this review, Mr Justice Woulfe acknowledged that this person may have been dining in a second room, behind the retractable partition wall. It appears that late in the evening a gap was opened by the hotel staff in the retractable wall behind Mr. Justice Woulfe, slightly behind his left shoulder – see Image 30 in the Book of Images.

Mr Justice Woulfe stated that he did not know a gap had been opened, at the end of the dinner for the speeches and prize giving. He did notice Gerry Brady going up for a prize, from his left. But he indicated to the Reviewer [Ms Justice Denham] that he never noticed the open section in the partition wall.


Mr Justice Woulfe stated that after his appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court he was not familiar with internal judicial protocols. He had received briefing materials from the Courts Service, but these concerned logistical issues, such as car parking and office space.

Mr Justice Woulfe, after discussing the matter with his wife, decided that, the safest thing to do was to raise the issue of the Oireachtas Golf Society event with the Chief Justice.

On Wednesday 29th July, 2020 Mr Justice Woulfe was crossing the yard at the Four Courts and met the Chief Justice. Mr Justice Woulfe called out to the Chief Justice, saying that because he was new he just wanted to check something with him. He said that he had been invited to the Oireachtas Golf Society outing.

Mr Justice Woulfe emphasised that it was a non-political event. Mr Justice Woulfe recollects the Chief Justice said something like “I don’t see any problem with that”. Mr Justice Woulfe pointed out to the Reviewer [Ms Justice Denham], in fairness to the Chief Justice, that he did not raise the issue as to whether there would be a dinner or not.

At no time did Mr Justice Woulfe receive a formal written invitation to the Oireachtas Golf Society outing, which he understands may have had a reference to a dinner. He never had sight of such an invitation. He was not aware whether there would be a formal group dinner, or whether participants would dine separately in the clubhouse with their playing partners directly after their round of golf. So he could not have raised the issue of the dinner with the Chief Justice at that time because he, Mr Justice Woulfe, did not know of the arrangements.

He had one or two conversations with Paul Coghlan, and got the exact dates for the event. He stated that nobody mentioned the dinner one way or another in any of the conversations.


On arrival at the clubhouse in Ballyconneely he went upstairs to the bar, where he expected to register. At the registration desk he met Donie Cassidy and Deputy Noel Grealish. Paul Coghlan was also in the vicinity of the registration desk. Mr Justice Woulfe was asked for and paid a fee for the outing, and he was told that the fee included dinner.

He was given a docket or voucher for dinner and was told that the dinner would be in the Station House Hotel, Clifden at 9.00pm. This was when Mr. Justice Woulfe first became aware of the proposed dinner.

Mr Justice Woulfe did not consider phoning the Chief Justice, or any other member of the Court, to seek guidance in relation to the dinner. Mr Justice Woulfe conveyed that his assumption was that the Chief Justice would have known that there was some kind of social element to the golf. He considered that there was no need to go checking the details
with him. He believed that there was nothing inherently dangerous about the fact that there was going to be a dinner. He stated that gatherings of 50 people were allowed under the regulations. These were the regulations in which he had been involved in the Attorney General’s office.


At the meeting on the 8th September, 2020, having heard from Mr. Justice Woulfe that he first learnt of the dinner when he registered at the Ballyconneely Clubhouse, the Reviewer asked him;

Mrs Justice Denham: “Did you consider phoning the Chief, or any other member of the Court to seek guidance in relation to the dinner?”

Mr Justice Woulfe: “Ah, no. I think that would have been ridiculous, with respect, Judge, I really do. You know, I don’t think an adult person on holidays in that kind of sense would go bothering the Chief Justice at that stage. Particularly there was nothing to spark off bother in my mind that there was any question going back to him.”

Having, inter alia, pointed to the reassurances he, Mr Justice Woulfe, had received from experienced people in the hotel trade, and the Government policy and the economic imperative of hotels getting business, the Reviewer asked Mr Justice Woulfe what the position was for a judge.

Mrs Justice Denham: “And what about as a judge?

Mr Justice Woulfe: “Same as a judge. In this sense you’re an ordinary citizen going to a social and recreational event”

Mrs Justice Denham: “Well are you an ordinary citizen? … ”

Mr Justice Woulfe: “Because of the nature of the event I think you are.”

Later the Reviewer asked Mr Justice Woulfe;

Mrs Justice Denham: “Do you accept that your presence at the dinner may have created a public controversy which could have adversely affected the Supreme Court?”

Mr Justice Woulfe: “Ok that’s a difficult question. In one sense I suppose that is so, that for the media to also have the chance to bring down a judge as an extra fuel to the fire and it did add to the controversy that I was there. …”

Mrs Justice Denham: “I think so, do you accept the context and the context is the pandemic, where we have six months of not going to christenings, not holding weddings, not being able to go to your family’s funerals”.

Mr Justice Woulfe: “Of course.”

Mrs Justice Denham: “And pent up tension in the country?”

Mr Justice Woulfe: “Of course. This was a very unfortunate set of circumstances and unfortunate timing. And for those people to be presented by the media with what appeared to be a flagrant breach of the Regulations and the Guidelines was like letting off a bomb.”

In all the circumstances the Reviewer is of the opinion that there was cogent evidence that, apart from considering whether the dinner was in compliance with the covide-19 [sic] Regulations and Guidelines and the separation of powers issue, Mr Justice Woulfe did not seek advice on or consider whether it was appropriate for a member of the Supreme Court to attend the dinner.


Mr Justice Woulfe stated that on Thursday morning, 20th August, 2020, he was absolutely dumbfounded to hear that Minister Calleary had resigned on account of attending the dinner.

Mr Justice Woulfe stated that he had not been aware of any breaches of the Regulations or Guidelines at that stage. He stated that he had racked his brain to see if there was something he had missed and stated that it had seemed to him that the media were pressing that there was a new Government rule on the 19th August and that the number had gone from 50 to 6 persons (at a gathering).

He stated that he was astonished, amazed, but he stated that if he had had time to think clearly he would have known that that could not have happened so swiftly. He stated that his understanding now (8th September, 2020) was that there had been wholesale confusion in the public’s understanding of the Regulations which applied on the 19th August, 2020.

The report can be read in full here


Retired Chief Justice Susan Denham has cleared Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe for attending the event at the centre of Golfgate. As Attorney General, Justice Woulfe had signed off the restrictions he would later breach

This afternoon.

Via Orla O’Donnell at RTÉ:

It’s understood the report by Ms Justice Susan Denham found there were not sufficient grounds to warrant the resignation of Mr Justice Woulfe.

She also concluded that while he erred in deciding to attend the dinner, mitigating factors needed to be taken into account.

Ms Justice Denham found it was reasonable for the judge to rely on the assurances of the organisers and his own observations in relation to the compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

Good times.

Resignation of Woulfe over golf dinner would be ‘disproportionate’ (RTÉ)

Previously: Seamus Woulfe on Broadsheet


Retired Chief Justice Susan Denham (left) and Séamus Woulfe, who, as Attorney General, signed off on regulations that prohibited gatherings like the golf outing he would attend a few weeks later as a Supreme Court judge

This afternoon.

Further to Golfgate….

Via The Irish Times:

Retired chief justice Susan Denham has met Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe concerning his attendance at the Oireachtas golf dinner, The Irish Times has learned.

Mr Justice Woulfe, a former Attorney General, was accompanied by Michael Collins SC when he met with Ms Denham in a boardroom on Tuesday at the Courts Service Green Street building.

…Senior Counsel Shane Murphy was also in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting which is understood to have lasted a number of hours

Séamus Woulfe meets former chief justice over Oireachtas dinner controversy (Irish Times)

Meeting reconstruction:

Denham: “What were you thinking?”

Woulfe: “Eh…”

[Four hours later]

Denham: “Lunch?”

[all present rush for door]


This morning.

Speaking on this morning’s Joe Finnegan show, in a wide ranging interview, Retired Judge [former Fianna Fáil member now with Sinn Féin] Sean MacBride says he would have said no if invited himself.

‘”I would have sent them a text saying no thanks, I am a permanent member of the third arm of government and I cannot be playing golf in an Oireachtas golf competition as you can appreciate, good luck and bye bye” and that’s simply how it would have been dealt with.’

“Seamus Woulfe is a very fine person and I have total respect and esteem for him” but he says he made a “tragic error of judgement” in attending the event in Clifden.

I still don’t understand as to why he went there” and that he couldn’t see that people would think here was “a clear breach of the separation of powers”.

Listen here

Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe, who as Attorney General, signed off on regulations that prohibited gatherings like the golf outing he would attend a few weeks later

Oh dear.

Any excuse.

Previously: Meet Me In Chambers

Golf dinner: Woulfe review to be shaped by international guidelines (Irish Times)

The Banglore Principles Of Judicial Conduct