Séamus Woulfe nominated for appointment to the Supreme Court

Taoiseach rejects any suggestion appointment was politically motivated

The nomination of Séamus Woulfe follows a recommendation from  the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The nomination of Séamus Woulfe follows a recommendation from the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Former attorney general Séamus Woulfe has been nominated by the Government for appointment to the Supreme Court.

The vacancy arose following the retirement of Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan in June last year.

Speaking at a post Cabinet briefing on Wednesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Supreme Court appointment “was completely independent of Government formation talks, had nothing to do with Government formation talks whatsoever.”

Mr Martin rejected any suggestion the appointment of Mr Woulfe was politically motivated, and said it had been made on the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (Jaab).

“It was a Jaab recommendation from the judicial appointments board … and my understanding is it was held prior to the formation of the Government,” he said.

“Those are the facts, a judicial appointment board appointment is that, I can’t interfere in that, nor would I attempt to, and it was a Jaab recommendation.

“The recommendation came to the Cabinet and the Cabinet agreed it, along with an appointment to the Circuit Court as well”, he said.

Mr Martin did not say whether the JAAB had recommended any other individuals for the position.

The previous Fine Gael-led government was thrown into controversy over the appointment of its former Attorney General Marie Whelan to the Court of Appeal which Mr Martin described at the time as “directly political”.

The Government has also agreed to nominate Mary Morrissey for appointment as a judge of the Circuit Court.

The vacancy in the Circuit Court arose following the death of Judge John Hannan in February. The nomination of Ms Morrissey also follows a recommendation from JAAB.

The nominations were agreed at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The final decision on the appointments rests with President Michael D Higgins.

Mr Woulfe was educated at Trinity College Dublin and Dalhousie University Nova Scotia. He was called to the bar in 1987, the inner bar in 2005, and was appointed as attorney general since June 2017.

Ms Morrissey was educated at th National University of Ireland Galway and the Law Society of Ireland. She qualified as a solicitor in 1999.