No judge has ever been impeached in Ireland and the bar is set very high for politicians to remove a judge from office.

And yet the controversy over Seamus Woulfe's attendance at that golf dinner in Clifden has now firmly moved to the political arena.

He has refused the urging of the Chief Justice Frank Clarke to resign and is digging in, saying his actions do not amount to judicial misconduct.

The Constitution provides that a judge of a higher court can only be removed from office for "stated misbehaviour or incapacity" upon resolutions passed by the Dáil and the Seanad.

However, "stated misbehaviour" has not been legally interpreted and a case would have to be made that something the judge did, or did not do, falls under that description.

What is agreed is that any attempt by the Oireachtas to exercise this power would be lengthy, open to legal challenge and not guaranteed of success.

So, the Government would have to move very slowly and carefully, rather than hurtling down this route.

And there is an expectation that it would liaise with opposition parties to move together before deciding on initiating any process.

If a decision was taken to begin impeachment, it's likely a select committee would be set up to hear evidence in private.

This committee could not make findings of fact or settle any conflicts but would simply be a means of gathering relevant information.

And the judge would be entitled to be heard prior to any vote by the Oireachtas.

Central to that would be the finding by Ms Justice Denham that calling for Seamus Woulfe's resignation would be "disproportionate".

Given that these powers have never fully been exercised in removing a judge, they would also be subject to legal challenge.

And here is where all politicians will have to be incredibly careful in their public pronouncements to avoid accusations of bias.

"The last thing the Government wants is to be required to act to remove a judge and ministers have been at pains to avoid commenting on the controversy"

This has already been stressed today by Fine Gael's Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, who urged members to hold back and not to screw up for a "quick populist political trip".

Labour's Brendan Howlin said anyone who has been involved in pre-determining the issue should recuse themselves.

If the impeachment did make it to a formal motion, Dáil and Seanad members would be expected to have a free vote.

There is one recent case where the process was initiated. This was against Circuit Court judge Brian Curtin back in 2003.

Following a public outcry at his acquittal on a charge of possessing child pornography, politicians began the impeachment process setting up a committee to examine evidence.

Judge Curtin challenged the process in the courts, but its legality was upheld by the Supreme Court. However, he resigned before the process could be completed, but getting to that point took three years.

Similarly in 1999, former High Court judge Hugh O'Flaherty resigned before any impeachment was begun.

The last thing the Government wants is to be required to act to remove a judge and ministers have been at pains to avoid commenting on the controversy.

And while the mess is not of its making, this Government and previous ones are culpable in delaying the full implementation of the Judicial Conduct Committee, which sets out a formal process in law for investigating and sanctioning judges.

Members have been appointed, but it does not yet have all its powers. If it did, everyone would have had a clearer picture of how to resolve this controversy and it's possible the current impasse could have been avoided.