Varadkar says he did not instruct McEntee on Woulfe appointment

Minister for Justice’s recollection on rolling controversy ‘similar to mine’, claims Tánaiste

The Minister for Justice told the Dáil that Leo Varadkar said to her the former attorney general Séamus Woulfe would make ‘a good judge’. File photograph: The Irish Times

The Minister for Justice told the Dáil that Leo Varadkar said to her the former attorney general Séamus Woulfe would make ‘a good judge’. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he did not instruct Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to recommend former attorney general Séamus Woulfe for appointment to the Supreme Court.

He said he told her he believed Mr Woulfe “would make a good or appropriate judge”.

Asked about the controversy at a press conference held by the three Coalition leaders on Friday evening on moving the country out of Level 5 restrictions, Mr Varadkar said Ms McEntee’s recollection “is similar to mine”.

“I said that I thought that Séamus would be a good judge or an appropriate judge or something of those lines. I think all of us agreed that or we wouldn’t have made that appointment. As she said, and she’s right I didn’t instruct her, I didn’t tell her to make that recommendation to Cabinet. And she said she didn’t inform me of the five other names.”

His comments follow a two-hour statement and question and answer session in the Dáil on Thursday over Mr Justice Woulfe’s appointment

When was remark made?

Ms McEntee told the Dáil that Mr Varadkar said to her the former attorney general would make “a good judge”.

In an admission that places the Fine Gael leader at the centre of the controversy, Ms McEntee said Mr Varadkar made the remark before she considered other candidates for the vacancy but that she ultimately made her own decision.

During a Dáil debate on the appointment, Ms McEntee said she did not believe the Tánaiste was telling her what to do when he made the comment.

Ms McEntee told the Dáil she made the decision herself.

She also told the Dáil there were five expressions of interest in the Supreme Court vacancy from sitting judges. The Irish Times reported earlier this month that at least three sitting judges had shown interest in the role.

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