The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has defended the process that selected Seamus Woulfe to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Justice Committee, she gave details of how Justice Woulfe was selected for the position.
Ms McEntee explained that earlier this year, the Chief Justice, Frank Clarke, identified that there was a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
He asked the then Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to fill that vacancy.
The process then began and the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) made a recommendation.
Justice Minister @HMcEntee defends the process which saw Justice Seamus Woulfe appointed to a vacancy on the Supreme Court @rtenews pic.twitter.com/iOddfUysh7— Tommy Meskill (@TommyMeskill) November 17, 2020
Ms McEntee said that having been appointed to the Justice portfolio in June, she looked at the JAAB recommendation and other expressions of interest.
Following that, she spoke with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister Eamon Ryan and the Attorney General.
A recommendation was made after this discussion, and a name was given to Cabinet.
The Minister said that only one name is ever given to Cabinet.
Considering Justice Woulfe's name was delivered through the JAAB, she said, that is the name that was given to Cabinet.
Ms McEntee emphasised her belief that Seamus Woulfe's name came through an "official process" which was "chaired by the chief justice himself".
Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government will not pursue any further action to remove Seamus Woulfe from the Supreme Court.
Speaking in the Dáil, he said the constitutional protection of the judiciary is better achieved by taking no further steps in this matter.
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He said the independence and integrity of the judiciary is of "paramount importance".
He also said the Government noted the informal process which was both "transparent and comprehensive" conducted by the judiciary to address concerns around Mr Justice Woulfe's attendance at an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, Co Galway in August.
Mr Martin said that the Government notes the important distinction between a resignation and the "high constitutional standard" of removal for stated misbehaviour.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the Chief Justice expressing no confidence in a member of the bench is "problematic".
She called for a "meditated solution to this particular issue" and said it is essential that Minister for Justice Helen McEntee make a statement to the Dáil and answer questions.
The @sinnfeinireland leader @MaryLouMcDonald— Paul Cunningham (@RTENewsPaulC) November 17, 2020
says to Taoiseach after Dail vote ensuring Justice Minister @HMcEntee won't answer q's re process of selection of Justice Woulfe: "You do yourself no service" by this approach.
Controversy arose after Mr Justice Woulfe attended an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Galway last August.
Former chief justice Susan Denham carried out a review and concluded that Judge Woulfe should not have gone to the dinner, but that calls for his resignation would be unjust and disproportionate.
Chief Justice Frank Clarke released correspondence a week ago expressing the view that Judge Woulfe should resign due to the cumulative effect of the controversy and the he had handled it since.
Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Ms McDonald said that in terms of public confidence, stability and the collegiality of the court, the fallout from Justice Woulfe's attendance at the Clifden event has to be resolved.
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly has said that he was "surprised" at the Taoiseach's statement in the Dáil regarding Mr Justice Woulfe.
He said that the Government members are also members of the Oireachtas and he said the Oireachtas would have to take decisions on this.
Deputy Kelly said the Taoiseach asked all leaders to come together last Friday and that this was not meant to be a Government versus Opposition issue.
He said it would have been "polite and appropriate" for the Government to ask all leaders to come together to discuss it again and get their views formally.
He said the separation of powers was being "misused" by the Government across a number of things.
The co-leader of the Social Democrats Catherine Murphy said the central issue regarding the controversy is where responsibility for dealing with alleged misconduct by a judge should fall.
She said that the problem is that "for so long we have lacked the ability in the right locations to deal with things", pointing out that the judicial conduct committee is not ready yet and insisting this must be accelerated.
Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has said it is "imperative" that Justice Minister Helen McEntee come before the Dáil to answer questions on the issue.
Leader of Aontú Peadar Tóibín said that for "transparency" it is necessary that the minister comes before the Dáil and gives a statement in relation to the process of selecting Mr Justice Woulfe.
Donegal TD Thomas Pringle said the Taoiseach "should have had the decency" to come back to Opposition leaders after meeting them on the Woulfe issue last week.
Board of Judicial Council to meet as controversy continues
Separately, the board of the Judicial Council met this afternoon.
The council is the body set up to oversee the judiciary and maintain public confidence in the administration of justice.
The meeting is understood to have been convened at short notice as the controversy continues over Judge Woulfe.
Additional reporting by Sandra Hurley and Aisling Kenny