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Enda Kenny gave a keynote address at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal this evening. Screen grab via Donegal County Council

Kenny promises new political corruption laws, with up to 10-year jail terms

The Taoiseach says the government has accepted a Mahon recommendation to legislate against political corruption.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has revealed that the government is working on new legislation against political corruption – which could see members of the Oireachtas face jail terms of up to 10 years if convicted.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties in Co Donegal, Kenny said the government had accepted the principle of a recommendation in the Mahon Tribunal to define ‘politically exposed persons’ who could face tough new sentencing.

“The days of ‘getting away with it’ are over,” Kenny said. “Minister Alan Shatter is working on innovative legislation which will include provisions for the conviction of ministers, TDs and civil servants.

“If convicted of a corruption offence, Oireachtas members could be subject of a court order to forfeit their Office and be excluded from seeking office again for up to 10 years,” he said.

Kenny said the government was committed to “cleaning up politics” and was continually seeking to making public institutions more transparent and accountable.

The new laws cannot apply retrospectively, however – meaning they cannot ensure any greater punishment for previous offences than the laws in place at the time any offences were committed.

Seanad reform

Kenny also smacked down the pleas of six high-profile former Senators, who today called on the government to consider reforming the Seanad instead of abolishing it.

“The government that I lead is clearly committed to a referendum, to ask the people: do they want, or do they not want, Seanad Éireann to continue? It’s part of the process of downsizing the scale of politics and institutions that we have.”

Kenny said the reason there had been no substantive reform of the Seanad since it was first instituted – despite consistent discussions on doing so – was because there was no consensus on the powers and role it should have.

“We’ve had seventy years of talk about reforming Seanad Éirenan. The fate of the Seanad is now in the hands of the people, and that process will continue until the people give their verdict.

“Some have argued that the citizens of our republic should not be allowed to take that decision,” Kenny claimed. “I believe that they should.”

The Taoiseach said he “respectfully disagreed” with the suggestions of some who believed the chamber should be reformed instead of abolished.

Elsewhere, the Taoiseach commented that reform of local government structures could “bridge the gap between people and politics”, and added that he wished to see the Constitutional Convention move between cities so that more people could feel part of the reform process.

Kenny also said, on the record, that he accepted the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal.

“On the day Moriarty was published, I sent the report in its entirety to the statutory authorities, with that effect [potential prosecutions] in mind,” he said.

Read: Former members call for Seanad to be reformed instead of abolished

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