Woulfe is a former branch secretary of Fine Gael in Dublin Bay North. He was never a judge but jumped into the Supreme Court before others. This was despite a major lapse that occurred while conducting an ‘independent’ investigation.
In 2011 he was appointed by the Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan to investigate complaints by two left wing Wicklow councillors about an inappropriate compulsory purchase order issued by their council manager. They claimed the order was made to facilitate a development on adjacent land by Zapi, a development company led by Sean Mulryan and Sean Dunne. They stated that was not suitable for social housing as it was a flood plain.
In his review Seamus Woulfe found ‘almost all of the concerns raised by the Councillors” were “not well founded or are misconceived’. This slur was repeated by the County Manager and the two councillors took a defamation case.
During the case, it transpired that documents available to both the Council and to Seamus Woulfe SC, were excluded from his review of the CPO. The documents revealed that the land in question was in fact a floodplain.
Woulfe gave direct evidence under oath in the court that he had not been given those documents by the Council and therefore could not have considered them as part of his review. Justice Marie Baker accepted in her judgement of July 2017 that these documents had indeed been made available to Mr Woulfe.
Despite this history, Woulfe was promoted to a Supreme Court Judge. But once again the Fine Gael connection in the selection process was strong. Woulfe was nominated by the Judicial Appointments Board that included Frank Clarke, a former Fine Gael candidate for the senate and George Birmingham, a former Fine Gael Junior Minister.
By pure co-incidence, Wolfe had sat on a previous Judicial Appointment Board with Frank Clare where they recommended George Birmingham – yes, the same one – for the presidency of the appeal court. The Fine Gael Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, saw no difficulty and appointed Woulfe to the Supreme Court.
And you still think there is a ‘separation of powers’.