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Fine Gael chair says Mahon could chair 'anti-corruption commission'

Charlie Flanagan has called for the setting-up of an anti-corruption commission in the wake of the Mahon Tribunal findings.

Judge Alan Mahon (File photo)
Judge Alan Mahon (File photo)
Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland

THE CHAIRMAN OF the Fine Gael party has called for the setting up of an anti-corruption commission in the wake of the findings of the Mahon Tribunal.

Charlie Flanagan first voiced his idea during the Dáil debate on the findings of the longest public inquiry in the history of the State last week.

He told TheJournal.ie this week that the some of the current systems in place for investigating corruption in Ireland were “wholly inadequate” in terms of transparency.

Flanagan’s idea echoes that of barrister Colm Mac Eochaidh whose newspaper ad eventually led to the setting-up of the Planning Tribunal 15 years ago. Mac Eochaidh said recently that a permanent commission would be much more cost-effective than a tribunal.

Flanagan said in the Dáil last week that he would favour Judge Alan Mahon, who chaired the Planning Tribunal from 2003 onwards, as the permanent chair of such a commission.

“I’m looking or an anti-corruption commissioner who ideally would be a serving judge,” he told TheJournal.ie. “A suitable candidate might be Judge Peter Kelly, or it might be Judge Alan Mahon.”

He explained that such a commission would have four arms that would be independent of government but funded by the State.

Flanagan said that one of the four arms would consist of a criminal investigation branch which would incorporate existing bodies such as the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Revenue Commissioners and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

‘Stoke mentality’

A second arm would link to a “strengthened” Oireachtas oversight committee. The third arm would be a corporate arm which would incorporate the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Competition Authority and the fourth arm would deal with education and information.

“We’d have an education and information budget which would be about changing the public culture of the fixer mentality, or the stroke mentality,” Flanagan said, adding that all four arms would report to the hypothetical anti-corruption commissioner.

“All those four arms would feed into this commissioner. I don’t want it to be seen as another Quango or authority. It would be lean because it would feed into the existing offices that are there.”

The Laois-Offaly TD expressed frustration with the current inquiries into alleged financial irregularities at the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide by the Gardaí and the Director of Corporate Enforcement in that there was a lack of information about what was going on.

“As a public representative, on a daily basis I get people who stop me on the street and vent their frustration to me.

“I can’t do more than agree with that frustration which is obviously inadequate because they elect me to represent them,” Flanagan said in relation to the inquiries into Anglo and Irish Nationwide.

He continued: ”If I write to the DPP, I am out of order. If I even ask in the Dáil what’s being done, I am out of order. If I question what High Court judges are doing, I am out of order.

“Now maybe that’s fine with the separation of powers but it’s still inadequate in that if I can’t question these people, somebody should be in a position to question these people.”

“The anti-corruption commissioner could say to the DDP: ‘What’s going on here?’ He could produce an interim report to let the public know what’s happening.”

Flanagan added that he had not yet raised his idea with the government but intended to bring it to relevant Ministers in the coming weeks.

Read: Barrister whose ad led to Mahon calls for an anti-corruption commission

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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