Seamus Woolf had ‘blurred’ knowledge of Covid-19 guidelines ahead of Golfgate event

A Supreme Court judge has said in the trial of four people accused of violating COVID-19 rules that they had “blurred, broad knowledge” of guidelines for reopening the hospitality sector.

Independent TD Noel Grealish and former Fianna Fell senator Donnie Cassidy, along with hoteliers John Sweeney and James Sweeney, each deny that they organized an Orchatas Golf Society event in violation of pandemic restrictions at the Station House Hotel in Clifden on August 19, 2020 did.

Mr Justice Seamus Woolf, a former attorney general, carried two full files under this left arm as he entered the courtroom and entered the witness box.

Judge Mary Fahy invited him to remove his mask before starting his evidence and advised him to put it on again when exiting the box.

Mr Justice Woolf said he first received an invitation from Senator Paul Coughlan to attend the Orchatas golf outing in 2018 and that while he could not attend that year, he attended the ceremony again in 2019 at the invitation of Senator Coughlan. took.

He described the Orchatas Golf Society as a “very apolitical” group that attracted members from all walks of life. “I believed it to be a purely social and recreational event,” he said. “I was given the impression, (Golf Society) was a good way to break any political ties between people of all parties.”

Responding to Eagan Cole Beale on behalf of the prosecution, the judge said he knew who was organizing the event.

When he arrived on the first day he said he had met Mr Cassidy, whom he described as “the very leader who was there to greet us”.

“Senator Coughlan couldn’t be there and arranged for Donnie Cassidy to look after me. I think I was also chatting with Deputy Noel Grealish at the desk,” said Mr. Justice Woolf.

‘nice people’

He said that he did not know that Deputy Grealish was the club’s captain because he had never seen the list of committee members. He said he was invited to attend the 2020 event at the 2019 dinner as it would be the 50th anniversary of the society.

He said he put the event “in the back of my head very vaguely, because the part I attended in 2019 was a lot of fun and they were all nice people”.

He said that he accidentally collided with Deputy Grealish on the grounds of Leinster House in May 2020 and then discussed the incident with him.

“Things were just starting to open up – it was May or June,” he said.

He recalled being appointed to the Supreme Court in July and being busy that he went on leave with his family to Donegal shortly thereafter.

He said he re-checked with Mr Coughlan about the ceremony and was assured that everything would be fully COVID compliant.