The Seamus Woulfe controversy and the deficiencies in Ireland's judicial appointments process

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Laura Cahillane
David Kenny


judges, judicial appointment, Judicial Appointments Commission, Golfgate, legislative reform, judicial diversity


The ‘Golfgate’ controversy of 2020 caused significant public anger, led to resignations of a number of high-profile figures, and caused questions to be asked about political culture and elitism in Ireland. A more unexpected consequence of this episode was that it exposed the serious inadequacies in the process of appointing judges in Ireland. Scrutiny of the manner in which Judge Seamus Woulfe was appointed to the Supreme Court revealed worrying inconsistencies and a serious lack of transparency in the process. While legislative reform is forthcoming to reform this process, it is not clear that the failings highlighted by this episode will be rectified in this process. This article examines Ireland’s appointment process in light of the Woulfe controversy and assesses the proposed reforms currently before the Oireachtas, on their adequacy to address these problems.

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