Dublin, 10 March 2009 - Terry Prone's article can be read here
To the editor of The Sunday Times
Terry Prone’s confused opinion piece (8 March 2009) “ Crooked moves and shady deals are in Ireland’s DNA ” might have been illuminating, and a lot less confused, had she actually read the National Integrity Systems Country Study by Transparency International (TI). It’s not entirely evident from her meanderings whether she even read the accompanying press release!
Ms Prone claims that the “oddity of the TI report is that it deals with political corruption only: “abuse of public office for private gain” is its definition”. This is entirely untrue. Firstly, TI defines corruption as the “abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. This covers everyone in the private and nonprofit sectors as well as government. Secondly, the study outlines the role of business, civil society, journalists, and the professions as well as public bodies in fighting corruption and the risk of wrongdoing in each sector. Moreover its makes over thirty recommendations on how best these can be addressed - including the introduction of measures to tackle the kind of corruption Ms Prone claims is prevalent in Irish media.
Having accused TI of stating the obvious, she goes on to make the arguments supported in our report – the role of high tax rates in encouraging corrupt behaviour (p36), and the influence that patronage, personal relationships and political favours bring to bear in official decisions (pp. 16,18,34) – otherwise known as “legal corruption”. Bizarrely, Ms Prone also tells us that Ireland’s reputation for corruption is “low on the international agenda at the moment”, but then goes on to say that “a new concept of sovereignty [has] developed, moving from owning your own country to owning international credibility...that there’s not much point in owning a lump of soil in the North Atlantic if nobody trusts the way you manage what’s on that soil”.
If anything, the Sunday Times might want to afford Ms Prone future deadline extensions to collect her thoughts and allow her enough time to read any work she attempts to ridicule. The TI study is free and available at transparency.ie.
Justin F Keogan
Chair, Transparency International Ireland