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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Julien Behal/PA Wire John Devitt of Transparency International Ireland

Ireland failing to tackle corruption, claims report

Media plurality, a regulator for charities and transparency in how people are appointed to State bodies all issues highlighted by Transparency International Ireland.

THE GOVERNMENT IS yet to implement measures targeting interference in public policy and corruption in local government, a report from Transparency International Ireland has claimed.

The group has published an EC-funded study on safeguards against corruption in Ireland. The National Integrity Systems study did praise recent moves to increase transparency in how parties are funded and legislation against white collar crime and bribery. It also “acknowledges that the discredited light-touch approach to financial regulation has been replaced with a more assertive model”.

However, TI Ireland claimed that nearly half of proposals to tackle corruption which it made in its previous study three years ago have not been implemented.

TI Ireland’s CEO John Devitt said that in 2009, the organisation had estimated that the Irish economy was losing around €3bn annually from white collar crime and corruption and said that there was “an urgency” to sort this out in light of the economic crisis facing the country.

The study also claims that the country needs a charities regulator, a review of media plurality given the increased share of INM taken by Denis O’Brien and more transparency in everything around appointments to State bodies and the running of political parties.

The report said that there has been no progress in the following measures which it recommended in 2009:

  • Additional resources to be allocated for agencies such as the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Competition Authority, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.
  • Corruption immunity programme to be introduced

It did note that there had been “some” progress in extending Freedom of Information requests to all public and semi-State bodies, including the gardai; in establishing a Register of Lobbyists; introducing whistleblower protection for all private and public sector employees; ratifying international conventions against corruption (especially the UN Convention against Corruption/the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption).

It has made new recommendations in this study including:

  1. Increasing education and awareness-raising on corruption and anti-corruption
  2. Promoting civil society participation in anti-corruption measures by publishing stats on prosecutions in that area, among other measures
  3. Ireland should join the Open Government Partnership initiative
  4. Ireland should sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on access to official documents
  5. The effiicacy with which all agencies dealing in combating corruption operate here should be reviewed
  6. Self-reporting of white collar offences should be encouraged with co-operation of prosecution officials
  7. Stronger anti-corruption safeguards should be introduced for local government
  8. Public officials should be given clearer and more comprehensive rules around disclosing interests
  9. There should be “maximum disclosure” by political parties in their annual accounts, including the debts and assets of all branches
  10. A charities regulator should be established
  11. Ensure greater transparency in appointments to State bodies
  12. Setting up regulation of cross-media ownership to encourage media diversity
  13. Media codes of conduct should be supplemented – including “guidance on the use of payments to sources and (to) prohibit payments to public officials”.
  • Read the full report here.

To coincide with the release of the report, TI Ireland is holding a seminar in Dublin this afternoon at the European Parliament offices on Molesworth Street. Speakers include Brian Hayes, Minister of State for Public Service Reform, The Village editor Michael Smith, John McGuinness TD, who is chair of the Committee of Public Accounts. The full line-up is here.

Read: How to prevent corruption in the future: Mahon’s recommendations>
Read: Significant reforms will see planning powers of councillors curtailed>

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