What did Judge Woulfe say about Calleary’s resignation?

The transcript of an interview involving Judge Séamus Woulfe on his attendance of the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in August was released publicly in recent days.

The interview was carried out by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Denham, as part of a review into Judge Woulfe’s conduct in attending the event, apparently in breach of public health guidelines.

During the interview by Judge Denham, Judge Woulfe gave his views on the resignation of then Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Dara Calleary.

Judge Woulfe said he had been “absolutely dumbfounded” to learn of the resignation of Calleary on the morning of Friday, August 21.

“I was absolutely dumbfounded to hear that Minister Calleary had resigned or been forced to resign by the Taoiseach [Micheál Martin], on account of him having attended the dinner,” Judge Woulfe told Judge Denham.

He added: “It was a ‘summary dismissal’ kind of atmosphere [like] he had done something terribly wrong. And I was absolutely dumbfounded and shocked.”

Judge Woulfe suggested: “Perhaps Minister Calleary was forced out on a false premise…it may well have been,” before adding: “Look, we won’t speculate.

It seems to have been what I would describe as throwing a tank of petrol on a small flame by forcing Dara Calleary to resign summarily without any chance to check the facts…that seems to have ignited the whole maelstrom.

Judge Woulfe went on to claim that one of the organisers of the Oireachtas Golf Society event had told him that “nobody in a senior position had ever asked him for the facts…the Taoiseach never asked him for an account of the facts”.

He further claimed that he had been told by one organiser of the event that “the Tánaiste [Leo Varadkar]…was insisting that the relevant rule was six people [for a social gathering]…and that’s why Minister Calleary was forced to resign”.