The Supreme Court and a constitutional crisis


Sir, – In calling for Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe’s resignation, the Chief Justice is restoring credibility to the Supreme Court. Mr Woulfe’s car-crash interviews with former chief justice Susan Denham revealed a petulance and self-pity ill-suited to one who aspires to sit in judgment on our Supreme Court.

Mr Woulfe’s lack of insight and self-awareness into his behaviour surely disqualifies him. One can only hope that, even at this late stage, he finally does the honourable thing and resigns. – Is mise,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Almost three months later Golfgate is still a topic. Is “Dinnergate” not the more accurate description of the shenanigans? After all, golf, in its inherently natural way, complies with all aspects of social distancing. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – I, and many people I know, have publicly expressed the opinion, now echoed by the Chief Justice Frank Clarke, that Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe should resign.

While Mr Justice Woulfe says he will not resign, surely he will not be able to sit on a case involving anyone who has expressed the same opinion as the Chief Justice. All anyone appearing before a court with Mr Justice Woulfe sitting need do is say that their client has publicly agreed with the opinion of the Chief Justice and Mr Justice Woulfe would have to recuse himself. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Sir, – With all the back and forth on the Golfgate issue, it feels there is scant chance of any unanimous decisions emanating from the Supreme Court any time soon. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Mr Justice Frank Clarke, the Chief Justice, informed Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe that, “It is not part of my role to ask, let alone tell, you to resign . . . however, I believe . . . you should resign.”

Is my understanding of the English language faulty or is this contradictio in adjecto a legal joke? – Yours, etc,


Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – Mr  Justice Woulfe broke no law and committed no crime. Why therefore should he resign? Every individual in this State is entitled to fair procedure and natural justice and referring the matter to the Attorney General is a step too far. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – We expect a lot of our judiciary. It goes without saying this includes a thorough understanding of the body of law as approved by various elected governments since the foundation of the State and also a similar understanding of Bunreacht na hÉireann, which is the foundation on which those laws are constructed.

However, as well as knowing what is “legal”, we hope they have the wisdom to know what is “right” to help them interpret those laws appropriately in the interests of all who are subject to those same laws.

While I have no reason to question Seamus Woulfe’s qualifications in terms of law, it is clear that he lacks the capacity to know what is the right thing to do now – and even more so given the stated position of the Chief Justice.

His position is untenable. He must step down. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – While pedigree chum seems to have been taken off the menu at Inns Quay, we can but hope the culinary skills on Kildare Street extend beyond dog’s dinners. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – I trust that I am not alone in finding it alarming that the Chief Justice of this country sees fit to publish letters that appear will serve only one purpose – that of furthering his own explicit opinion that another person should resign his position. I would never suggest in writing that a person should resign but I would suggest that the Chief Justice might need to consider his own position. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 9.

Sir, – After years of “tolerance” of low standards in high places, we have now, and rightly so, become intolerant of any errors of judgment by our politicians, leaders and judges. The problem is that the sanctions we are now demanding are out of proportion to the “offences”. If we expect a level of perfection of people to retain their role or position, which is not achievable, due to the human condition, are we not going to discourage ordinary people from choosing a public role in our society? Recent hounding of politicians and other public figures, by Opposition parties (themselves not without sin), and indeed the media too, has become something of a blood sport. It is becoming wearying. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.

Sir, – I have no doubt that a round of golf would have sorted the whole thing out. The great Jack Nicklaus once said, “Golf teaches you how to behave.” – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Susan Denham concluded that it would be disproportionate to sack Seamus Woulfe. He is entitled to due process. There is now an attempt to hound him from office. It is disturbing that the Supreme Court is unanimous in its view that he should resign. – Yours, etc,


Dundrum, Dublin 14.

Sir, – Compare and contrast recent Supreme Court appointments in Ireland and the United States.

In the US, the nominee attends a super-spreader event and is subsequently endorsed by the US Senate, whereas here a recent appointee attends a dinner with no proven adverse outcome and a witch-hunt ensues. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – When an organisation doesn’t have adequate grounds or power to dismiss an employee but tries to force the employee into resignation, we normally refer to that as attempted constructive dismissal or, more colloquially, as attempts to “hound out” that person. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 15.

Sir, – Two words – Woulfe and door – come to mind! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – Does Mr Judge Woulfe not realise that his refusal to go invites comparison with Donald Trump, thereby damaging himself as well as the justice system of our country?

I beg him to heed Cromwell’s dismissal of the Rump Parliament: “In the name of God, go!” – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – The escalating row between the Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe and the Chief Justice can only be described as an appalling vista. — Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – Am I the only one who, on reading the letters between the Chief Justice and Mr Justice Woulfe, cannot believe the length of the letters and the legalese used?

No wonder legal costs in the State are so high when even an “informal conversation”, albeit in writing between the most senior members of the judiciary, can be so long winded .

Not only that, but no conclusion has been reached, and we are none the wiser as to the conclusion.

If no solution is found, it augurs badly for justice in the country and will only reaffirm that, in the people’s minds, the law is an ass. – Yours, etc,



Wirral, UK.

Sir, – What did we expect? Judges were never known as the shy and retiring type. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Sir, – On reading those letters in full, it seems that the public’s call for longer sentences has been heard. – Yours, etc,




Co Dublin.