By Nuala Haughey, Advocacy and Research Manager
WITH REPORTS THAT the trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank executives could run for up to six months, valid concerns have been raised about the availability of jurors for such a lengthy period.
At the latest hearing in the case earlier this month, Judge Mary Ellen Ring flagged up the threat that the forthcoming trial could be put at risk if too many jurors were to become unavailable. Under the current system, a 12 member jury can lose two members and still continue. But if a third person left, the trial could collapse.
By Nuala Haughey, Advocacy and Research Manager, Transparency International Ireland
It is no coincidence that countries suffering most from the European debt crisis also have major problems with corruption. While international indicators suggest that corruption is less pervasive in Ireland than, say, Greece or Spain, its ravaging impact on public finances is just as tangible.
Corruption has played a starring role in our home-grown crisis. Not necessarily corruption in the traditional sense of bribery, but what is known as “legal” corruption - practices which, while unethical, are not punishable by law. Our banking meltdown was in no small part caused by legal corruption in the form of the “capture” of regulators and policy makers by a banking and property elite.
It is clear to indignant and increasingly impoverished citizens in both Ireland and the rest of Europe that the debt crisis is underpinned by a much more fundamental crisis of values and governance. It is also apparent that there will be no way out of this mess until we tackle the underlying corruption risks and governance gaps that led to obscene benefits for the few at the expense of the many.
But where to begin?
By Nuala Haughey
As the Mahon report rightly states, corruption thrives in shadows and darkness. The twilight world of political finances – and the toxic nexus between business and political parties – is an obvious area where the disinfectant properties of sunlight are much needed.
By John Devitt
You may have noticed that we have added a question mark to the title of the last post. We’re asking for clarification on the Government’s plans for whistleblower legislation and will bring you news as soon as we get it. In the meantime, we understand the Government will hold a referendum on T.D. privilege and the power of Oireachtas inquiries at the same time as the referendum on judges pay and the Presidential election.
By John Devitt
The Irish Times online headline today looked promising. 'Whistleblower legislation to be fast-tracked', it read. Pressure has mounted on the Government to introduce whistleblower protection in the wake of the Rostrevor nursing home scandal. People have been afraid to speak up about abuse of patients, fraud and corruption because of weak whistleblower safeguards. Now, the absence of a robust whistleblower charter leaves those courageous people who exposed the alleged physical abuse of elderly patients at the Dublin care home vulnerable to unemployment and deportation.
By John Devitt
Five seconds after I finished the interview with Mary Wilson on RTE's Drivetime, the phone started ringing. In our first day (bearing in mind it's lunchtime as I'm writing this) we've taken around forty calls or emails from people looking to report or seeking advice through our new Speak Up helpline.
Opinion by Lee Daly
Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which was published today should provide a rare opportunity to gain some idea of how international business leaders view Ireland's effectiveness at tackling corruption. The signs are encouraging at first glance, as Ireland's score (8 out of 10, with 10 being the least corrupt) and overall ranking (14th out of 178 countries surveyed) has remained stable.
Adopted: 31 October 2003 by the UN General Assembly
Signatories: 140 (Now closed for signature)
Ratifications: 85 (as of 28 February 2006)
Entry into force: 14 December 2005
Open to: All countries and regional economic organisations
Website for updated information: www.unodc.org
Main benefits of the Convention
• International agreement on importance of addressing corruption with a comprehensive framework, setting common standards. It is the only Convention that is truly global.
• Asset recovery framework elaborated for the first time on a global basis, north and south.
• International cooperation framework improved for mutual law enforcement assistance, notably in extradition and investigations.
• Extensive coverage of ways, means and standards for preventive measures for public and private sectors.
To mark global Anti-corruption Day on 9th December, Trócaire called on the Government to set out an early date for Ireland's ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption
As a major United Nations conference met to discuss the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Jordan last December, Ireland had to watch, rather than take part in proceedings.
Since Ireland has yet to ratify UNCAC, it is not recognised as a “State Party” and did not have a say in how this important instrument should be implemented at home - or in any countries which receive a large portion of Irish development assistance. This represented a lost opportunity for the Irish Government to shape the international agenda in promoting good governance.
In short,Ireland’s failure to ratify UNCAC undermines its credibility as a country willing and able to fight corruption at home and abroad.