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Global Corruption Report criticises Ireland for poor whistleblower protection

Dublin, 1 February 2006 - The Global Corruption Report published by anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) claims that whistleblower legislation is vital to prevent and detect corruption in Ireland . The report includes the second review of corruption and reform in Ireland since a chapter of TI was established here in 2004.

Speaking of the need for further legal reform, the author of the section on Ireland, Elaine Byrne describes how the “ reported systemic nature of corruption within the police force and planning process…warrants the introduction of whistleblower legislation more than ever.”

Byrne also highlights the 2004 reports on tax evasion scandals at AIB and National Irish Bank as indicative of the “systematic culture of non-compliance that dominated sectors of Irish life in the 1980s and 1990s”.

While the report underlines revelations of corporate and public sector wrongdoing over the past two years, it also compliments policy makers for a series of reforms that holds out the promise of greater transparency and accountability in corporate and public life.

The establishment of the Financial Services Ombudsman, Civil Service Codes of Standard and Behaviour, and the passing of the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act* are identified as welcome reforms since 2004.

Commenting on the report, acting Chief Executive of TI Ireland, John Devitt said that it should prompt “much needed discussion on government’s commitment to fighting corruption. It also helps put those efforts into a global context”.

The thematic section of the report focuses on the impact of bribery and embezzlement on global healthcare. The report also features an introduction by Mary Robinson who claims that the human rights community is not paying enough attention to corruption.

The problem is highlighted in a number of essays from around the world that expose bribery, extortion, the theft of hospital funds and the complicity of pharmaceutical companies, health workers and public officials in selling or prescribing unsuitable or counterfeit drugs to patients.

Notes

The inclusion of individual countries in the Global Corruption Report should not be read as an indicator of corruption by itself.

The Irish section of the report is available at www.globalcorruptionreport.org, page 172. Please see international press release for details of thematic section or log on to www.transparency.org.

Transparency International ( Ireland ) will publish a National Integrity System Study on Ireland in October 2006 which will assess the ability of the state, business community and civil society to detect and prevent corruption. The study is funded by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Ireland is placed 19 th out of 159 countries with a score of 7.4 out of 10 in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2005 published by Transparency International. A score close to 10 indicates that a country is perceived to be “highly clean” and the higher a country is placed on the index, the less corrupt it is believed to be. The lower the score, the more likely a country is to believed to suffer from high levels of corruption. While Ireland ’s score is relatively high in international terms, it falls well short of the scores allocated to its northern European neighbours. Iceland is perceived to be the “least corrupt country” with a score of 9.7 and is closely followed by Finland on 9.6 out of 10. The United Kingdom also scores highly with 8.6 out of 10.

* The Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act now facilitates the confiscation of the proceeds of corruption by the Criminal Assets Bureau where the High Court decides that profits were made on the basis of a corrupt payment to a public official. The amendment now means that a judgement by the High Court can be made on the basis of the burden of proof rather than proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Elaine Byrne is currently completing a PhD thesis on the history of corruption in Ireland at the University of Limerick .

TI Ireland is currently funded by membership and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a UK based philanthropic group which donated €60,000 for the set up of the Irish chapter of TI in 2004.

Further information is available by calling 01 608 3705 or 086 173 5040