A planned meeting between Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe and Chief Justice Frank Clarke has been postponed.

The two men had been due to meet this morning as the "informal resolution" process recommended by the Denham review begins.

However, Mr Justice Woulfe requested a postponement for personal reasons yesterday evening.

The Courts Service said that the Chief Justice had agreed to reschedule the meeting.

It seems likely at this stage that Mr Justice Woulfe's position on the Supreme Court is secure.

He may face a "dressing down" from the Chief Justice, but the former chief justice Susan Denham has made it crystal clear that calls for his resignation would be unjust.

And there does not seem to be a strong desire on behalf of any political party to pursue impeachment proceedings.

In truth, it’s hard to imagine how a judge could be impeached over his attendance at a dinner.

As many of those who support Mr Justice Woulfe have pointed out, it could not be seen as being on a par, with, for example, corruption in the course of someone carrying out their duties on the bench as a judge, or a judge being charged with a serious criminal offence.

Why then is there such an air of gloom among so many legal people? And why do so many agree with law lecturer Dr Laura Cahillane that public confidence in the administration of justice will take a long time to recover from what has happened?

Perhaps it’s because not once in the entire 140-page transcript of Ms Justice Denham’s conversation with Mr Justice Woulfe and his lawyer, does the new judge seem to recognise what the real problem is.

It's not the separation of powers. Many lawyers I’ve spoken to in the past few weeks have been exercised about this point in particular, whether or not a judge should be dining with politicians in the first place.

"There are some things a judge just should not go to," one senior counsel said, definitively.

Mr Justice Woulfe acknowledged that it was right to seek assurances from the Chief Justice on this issue in advance. He seems to have been reassured by his brief conversation with Frank Clarke in the yard at the Four Courts at the end of July.

And Ms Justice Denham in her review did not think his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society event breached the separation of powers.

It’s not whether or not the public health regulations were actually breached either, the point Mr Justice Woulfe relied on most heavily.

Ms Justice Denham accepted the explanations put forward by Mr Justice Woulfe in relation to the Covid-19 regulations. It was not unreasonable of him to believe regulations were being complied with, she found.

She accepted assertions from his engineer that the judge’s seating position meant he didn’t know there were almost 40 other diners from the same event sitting on the other side of a partition and that he didn’t realise part of the partition was pulled back at a certain point in the event.

She also accepted that the new rules in relation to indoor gatherings announced by the Government a day earlier, were not backed up by legal regulations at the time of the dinner.

The real problem is, as one senior lawyer said, "he doesn’t get it".

The transcript shows a lack of insight and a lack of understanding of the public mood. Mr Justice Woulfe may not have breached any regulations, knowingly or unknowingly.

Technically, the partition may have meant that the two rooms were separated areas.

His attendance may not have been a breach of the separation of powers.

But this is all utterly irrelevant to those who had to endure such hardship and distress in the previous months.

Was it appropriate for a judge, a cabinet minister, an EU commissioner and the leas cathaoirleach of the Seanad to play golf and socialise into the night, as the country suffered the brunt of five months of restrictions?

As people cancelled birthday parties, communions and weddings, watched loved ones die via Facetime and limited attendance at funerals?

The minister, commissioner and leas cathaoirleach all made their decisions in the end.

Asked about the context in which the dinner was taking place, Seamus Woulfe’s reaction and that of his Senior Counsel Michael Collins was to focus on the letter of the regulations and blame the media.

The people who had missed christenings, weddings, funerals were "presented by the media" with what seemed to be a "flagrant breach of the regulations", Mr Woulfe said.

Mr Collins said: "If the matter had been explained properly and factually correctly ... there would be unlikely to be anything like the same reaction to it."

This view was not eventually shared by Ms Justice Denham who found Mr Justice Woulfe had not considered whether his attendance at such a dinner, in a public place in the middle of a pandemic could be seen as an impropriety or be perceived as an impropriety.

It is certainly not shared by many lawyers who feel the full transcript of Mr Justice Woulfe’s discussions has made things worse rather than better. Many described themselves as "appalled".

One experienced senior counsel said the transcript was "representative of an old boys’ network mentality that has no place in a modern judiciary".

This senior lawyer also said it "disheartened many" who wanted to believe the judiciary was changing.

Another lawyer said it fed "a perception of elitism and cronyism" and left him "dismayed and disillusioned".

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, the current Attorney General, the Chief Justice and Mr Justice Woulfe's colleagues on the court, all of whom featured in his efforts to exonerate himself, may also feel dismayed.

A more meaningful apology, with empathy, recognising the difficulties people have faced during these unprecedented times, could have been a more effective strategy.

The judge is due to meet with the Chief Justice to discuss the matter.

No one knows what form the "informal resolution" recommended by Ms Justice Denham will take or how the deep divisions caused not only by the dinner, but by the way Mr Justice Woulfe dealt with its aftermath, can be easily healed.

Mr Justice Woulfe was due to meet the Chief Justice this morning, but last night asked for a postponement for personal reasons, which was accepted.