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Woulfe meeting with Chief Justice cancelled after medical report submitted

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A scheduled meeting between Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice, Frank Clarke, was cancelled on Thursday after the Chief Justice was shown a “cogent medical report”.

It is the fourth time a proposed meeting between the two men to discuss the fallout from Mr Justice Woulfe’s attendance at the “Golfgate” dinner in Co Galway last August, has been postponed.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, Mr Justice Clarke said he had received correspondence earlier that enclosed a “cogent medical report to the effect that he [Mr Justice Woulfe] is not in a position to take part in the resolution process at this time”.

The Supreme Court has been engaged in an informal process to try and resolve the controversy caused by Mr Justice Woulfe’s attendance at the Clifden dinner.

After a planned meeting on Tuesday last was deferred at the request of Mr Justice Woulfe, the Chief Justice said that if the meeting did not go ahead on Thursday, “he will make alternative arrangements to convey his final views on the process to Mr Justice Woulfe.”

However on Thursday he received correspondence in relation to the planned meeeting, and a statement was later issued.

“While it is important for the Chief Justice to respect the confidentiality and privacy of Mr Justice Woulfe,” the statement said, “the correspondence did enclose a cogent medical report to the effect that he [Mr Justice Woulfe] 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.”

The former Chief Justice, Susan Denham, produced a commissioned report for the Supreme Court on the matter in which she said that while Mr Justice Woulfe should not have attended the dinner, given the pandemic, it would be disproporationate and unjust that he should be asked to resign.

She recommended to the court that the matter be resolved informally, and the court issued a short statement on October 1st stating that it intended to do so.

On the following day, a Friday, a transcript of Mr Justice Woulfe’s interview by Ms Justice Denham was published by the board of the Judicial Council, and caused fresh controversy.

That same day three judges from the Supreme Court met with Mr Justice Woulfe, and it was agreed that he would meet with the Chief Justice on the Monday.

It has been widely-reported that Mr Justice Woulfe, who has not as yet commented publicly on the Denham report, was surprised by the views that were expressed during his meeting with his three judicial colleagues.

The planned meeting on Monday did not go ahead at his request. A meeting the following Friday was cancelled, again at Mr Justice Woulfe’s request, for medical reasons.

Mr Justice Woulfe was an Attorney General in the last government and was appointed to the Supreme Court in July. He has yet to sit to hear a case.

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