Varadkar denies he pushed for Dara Calleary’s resignation

Tánaiste reacts to suggestion made by Séamus Woulfe’s in Golfgate transcript

Dara Calleary who resigned as minister for agriculture following ‘Golfgate’ scandal. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Dara Calleary who resigned as minister for agriculture following ‘Golfgate’ scandal. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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The Tánaiste has said any suggestion he pushed for Dara Calleary to resign is “not remotely grounded in truth”.

Leo Varadkar was reacting to a section of the transcript of the interview with Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe about his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in August.

In the transcript, Mr Woulfe states he was told that Mr Varadkar “was insisting” that rules brought in limiting attendance at indoor functions to six people were in place at the time of the function.

“One of the organisers [of the event] told me that the Tánaiste at a meeting was insisting that the relevant rule was six people on that Wednesday night and that’s why Minister Calleary was forced to resign,” the transcript reads. He later said Mr Calleary was “forced out on a false premise”.

On Sunday, a spokesman for Mr Varadkar said: “This is not remotely grounded in truth. Dara Calleary had resigned as minister for agriculture before the Tánaiste had the opportunity to speak to him, the Taoiseach, the leader of the Green Party or anyone about the matter.”

A review of Mr Woulfe’s actions by former Chief Justice Susan Denham found that it would be disproportionate for him to leave his position due to his attendance.

In the transcript he criticised the media’s report of the event as “completely fake”. Mr Woulfe also suggested that Mr Calleary may have been “forced to resign by the Taoiseach”. A spokeswoman for Taoiseach Micheál Martin had no comment.

Dim views

The transcript was roundly criticised over the weekend. Former minister Shane Ross said it was “highly unusual” for Supreme Court judges to express open criticism of both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, and that his remarks “tell us more about the dim views held by some judges about certain politicians than is normally revealed”.

“Normally politicians and judges hide behind the so-called doctrine of separation of powers to avoid comment on each other’s failings,” he said.

“The separation of powers is undoubtedly exposed as an empty doctrine by these conversations where it is apparent that the views and standards of politicians and judges are at variance. Justice Woulfe has let the cat out of the bag.”

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