Oireachtas Golf Society scandal – the rule of law and a political crisis

 

Sir, – Who could have more responsibility for upholding the rule of law generally, and in particular for upholding the present Covid regulations, than the Government’s legal adviser that introduced those regulations?

Well that would be a judge – any judge at all.

And who could have more responsibility in that regard than any judge at all? Well that would be the judge who, as attorney general, was involved in drafting that legislation.

And who could do more damage to the rule of law and to public acceptance of those Covid regulations than the former attorney general mentioned above? Well that would be the judge mentioned above.

And how could the consequences of lapses in responsibility by these people be somewhat reduced in severity? Well that would be by the judge mentioned above, taking the example already given by the former minister mentioned above. Immediately.

And ignorance is no defence. Any judge would tell you that. – Yours, etc,

Dr PETER DUNKIN,

Goleen,

Co Cork.

Sir, – While the decision to proceed with the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner was discouraging for us, it was not surprising given the arrogant base from which the attendees operate. Additionally, it showed their ignorance of how pandemics spread, putting themselves, their families and all of us at risk.

The better news is that the rest of us don’t have to follow their example as we can choose to behave responsibly for our own protection and that of society. – Yours, etc,

MARY MEYLER,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Seamus Woulfe, former attorney general and current Supreme Court judge, in relying on the advice of the Irish Hotels Federation, seems to be unaware of the basic legal principle that ignorance of the law is not a defence. – Yours, etc,

DENIS MURPHY,

Clonskeagh,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – If all Ministers were non-party, Micheál Martin could blame the public for his woes. – Yours, etc,

TONY GRACE,

Cork.

Sir, – The Clifden dinner represents a moment of Titanic proportions – a last-gasp gathering of the “great and good” of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, before the dominance of both parties slips beneath the waves of a choppy sea, whipped up by the anger and outrage of former supporters. – Yours, etc,

EAMON O’FLYNN,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Last February, I booked a table for eight to celebrate a significant birthday next month. This week, I was informed that I could have one table of two and one of six, or two tables of four on opposite sides of the room, with no intermingling. As a healthcare worker, I am well aware of how necessary the restrictions are. I cancelled the booking.

Shame on those who purport to be leaders in our society who blatantly flaunt the regulations and then make excuses for their irresponsible behaviour. – Yours, etc,

CAITRIONA O’CONNOR,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Nothing gives the Irish greater satisfaction than outperforming the English. We have done that spectacularly: England 1 (Dominic Cummings), Republic of Ireland 81 (Dara Calleary, Phil Hogan, Jerry Buttimer, Seamus Woulfe, et al).

If there was a World Cup for arrogance, stupidity and irresponsibility, we would walk away with it. – Yours, etc,

AIDEN TRAYNOR,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

A chara, – Reflecting on the now infamous golf dinner at Clifden, I couldn’t help recalling the then-attorney general Seamus Woulfe’s comment in 2018 on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017, which was being promoted by then-minister for transport, tourism and sport Shane Ross, as a “dog’s dinner”.

I trust the fare was a good deal better for the learned judge and his fellow diners the other night in Clifden. – Is mise,

JOHN GLENNON,

Hollywood,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – The Oireachtas Crazy Golf Society. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN AHERN,

Clonsilla,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – As I watched the Taoiseach on RTÉ a television interview on Friday, my bewilderment turned to outrage with his benevolent references to the former minister for agriculture, food and the marine. The former minister, according to his leader, showed leadership and accountability in his prompt resignation, important exemplars in themselves, he reminded us.

If this is where the bar is set on acceptable levels of leadership and accountability in this Government, it becomes blindingly obvious that the health risk to the nation in continuing with this administration significantly outweighs the risk involved in having another general election. The Taoiseach should consider returning to the polls on October 15th, Global Hand Washing Day. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL GANNON,

Kilkenny.

A chara, – Your timid editorial (“Stuck in the bunker”, August 22nd) on the parliamentary golf fiasco says that the actions of the Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe “appear to fall into a different category”.

They do. He is a senior judge who, as attorney general, contributed to developing the regulations, so he should have had the common sense to walk out when he saw the arrangements. He also, I believe, broke a perhaps unstated protocol among senior judges about not attending public events with a political tinge. He should resign.

It would be interesting, too, to know the full guest list and who, for example, sat with Brian Hayes, the former Fine Gael MEP and lobbyist for the banks, some of the most discredited institutions in the State. – Is mise,

PAUL MURRAY,

Templeogue,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – I am reminded of a children’s game. “What time is it, Mr Wolf?” Time to go. – Yours, etc,

ALAN WARREN,

Glenageary,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Apart from the serious implications of the dinner in Clifden, maybe the organisers can explain why a Supreme Court judge, a banking lobbyist and a former national broadcaster were among the 81. – Yours, etc,

PETER FOLEY,

Tramore,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – Calling for Phil Hogan’s resignation is pointless. Necks and jockeys spring to mind. – Yours, etc,

DAVID MURNANE,

Dunshaughlin,

Co Meath.

Sir, – In his statement of apology, Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe said: “That I ended up in a situation where breaches may have occurred, is of great regret to me, for which I am sorry.”

Most people would say that rather than “ending up” going to the dinner, he actually decided to go to the dinner.

If his judgment is as flawed as it appears to be, then we really do have a problem with Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe and the position that he holds. – Yours, etc,

NOEL SHANAGHY,

Faithlegg,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – “Any” and “may” are two words commonly used when public apologies are made following negative publicity about actions or inactions. Their use undermines the sincerity of the apology. – Yours, etc,

MARY McCROHAN,

Monkstown,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – I had no idea so many had trouble counting to six, let alone 50. – Yours, etc,

DEBORAH CURRAN,

Kildalkey,

Co Meath.

Sir, – I note that that the apology du jour appears to be that the individual concerned made a “grave error of judgment”.

I understand that an error of judgment involves the examination of a situation and a decision made on the basis of that examination that subsequently turns out to be a poor decision.

Are we to believe that 80 people, to a man and woman, almost of whom have been or still are associated at high levels within the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the State, not to mention a prominent former member of the fourth estate, all managed to examine the situation that they encountered last week and all made the exact same mistake?

Or is it more likely that it didn’t enter their minds that these guidelines might apply to them? It’s very clear what some of our “governing class” think of us. – Yours, etc,

TREVOR SHEAHAN,

Blackrock,

Cork.

Sir, – In the week I was unable to attend GAA matches due to Covid-19 restrictions, I would like to thank the Government for providing golfing entertainment to fill the void. – Yours, etc,

COLM McCORMACK,

Bunbrosna,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – We all have to be two metres apart, except for Phil Hogan.

He doesn’t have to be two metres apart from you. You have to be two metres apart from him. – Yours, etc,

RAY WELDON,

Roscam,

Galway.

Sir, – Covid-19 has not gone away. Neither has Fianna Fáil, it seems. – Yours, etc,

DERMOTT CARROLL,

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – What a shame that we can’t look forward to seeing Sean O’Rourke interviewing Sean O’Rourke about this – Yours, etc,

FRANK LYNCH,

Limerick.

Sir, – It shouldn’t be difficult to recall the Dáil to debate the recent happenings in Clifden as Recess is just down the road. – Yours, etc,

Dr EDDIE HARTY,

Bealadangan,

Co Galway.

Sir, – The official Government restrictions, published on gov.ie, for restaurants and cafés, including pubs and hotel restaurants, is that “no formal or informal events or parties should be organised on these premises”. Indoor gatherings and events are now limited to six people from no more than three households. There is no ambiguity here.

There has been considerable discussion about allowing a maximum of six seated at a table.

However, as the limits of 50 attendees at a wedding show, the six per table limit does not allow an unlimited number of six-per-table guests to make up a single large event. If it did, a wedding party of 600 would be permissible by the simple ruse of having 100 tables of six people, each bypassing the 60-guest limit. – Yours, etc,

DONAL McGRATH,

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – It is very sad to see that so many of our “leading” citizens, politicians and otherwise, appear to be under the control of a mysterious force which caused them to have “ended up” in a situation in which they “certainly never intended to be”. – Yours, etc,

CHRISTINA RUSSELL,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – Just wondering who won the Oireachtas golf outing? We know who the losers were. – Yours, etc,

JOHN O’DOHERTY,

Letterkenny,

Co Donegal.