During the general election campaign earlier this year, civil servants were concerned about accepting the Chief Justice’s request that the Supreme Court fill the vacancy.
On February 4, Justice Frank Clark wrote a letter to the then Minister of Justice, Charlie Flanagan, asking him to fill the vacancy.
That position was eventually given to former Attorney General Siamus Wolf, but by July, a new government had been formed.
He was controversial for his participation in ‘Golf Gate’. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Helen McIntyre was asked questions about her choice when all five sitting judges expressed interest in the role.
Officials believed it was inappropriate for the government to make such a decision during an election campaign, citing domestic email correspondence released by the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act.
One pointed to the guidance of Taoist Secretary-General Martin Fraser that ministers should refrain from making important policy decisions, public appointments or funding announcements during the election campaign.
Flanagan wrote a letter to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board that month requesting a list of suitable candidates, but he made it clear to Chief Justice Frank Clark.
In a Feb. 4 letter, Clark said there was a vacancy in the court and that he could not immediately file cases against Justice Mary Irwin because she was the chair of the Cervical Check Tribunal.
Eventually she was appointed as the President of the High Court and could not preside over the tribunal.
Justice Clark also raised the possibility of another judge retiring. Justice Irwin was involved in the tribunal.
He said it would be appropriate to fill the existing vacancies.