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Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 – Political leaders need to accelerate efforts to stop corruption

25 January 2022

Dublin, 25 January 2022

Government and Opposition parties need to press ahead with open-government and anti-corruption reforms with much greater urgency, according to Transparency International (TI) Ireland as it launches the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2021 today.

Ireland’s score has improved marginally from 72 to 74 since last year, placing it in joint 13th position out of 180 countries this year. The CPI ranks 180 countries based on perceived levels of corruption and Ireland’s score is based on the findings of eight separate surveys and studies, conducted by international think-tanks and political risk agencies. The more points a country receives out of 100, the less it is perceived to be affected by public-sector corruption.

‘Ireland performs relatively well in comparison to most countries on the CPI but that is no indicator of actual levels of corruption here. The risk of corruption is still underestimated in local government, companies and state bodies and our last public survey, the Global Corruption Barometer, showed that a large proportion of the public think corruption is a problem. We can also see this in the polls and if the Government is to restore public confidence in its ability to stop abuse or misuse of power, it needs to accelerate efforts to promote transparency and accountability in public office’, said John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland.


Ireland continues to trail its Northern European counterparts on the index, with the Scandinavian countries as well as Finland and Germany all scoring over 80 points. Finland joins Denmark and New Zealand at the top of the CPI. These are perceived to be the least corrupt countries this year with a score of 88 out of 100. Somalia (13), Syria (13) and South Sudan (11) remain at the bottom of the CPI.

TI Ireland has called for the restoration of the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015 which was allowed to lapse at the last election. The Bill would have implemented reforms proposed by the Mahon Tribunal in 2012 and required TDs and officer holders to disclose additional financial interests including large loans and liabilities. It would also have reformed the Standards in Public Office Commission and overhauled how the financial interests of elected officials at both national and local level are disclosed.


In addition, TI Ireland has recently called for the implementation of a long-term Open Government Strategy and to reform the Electoral Act to remove draconian restrictions on funding for human rights groups and campaigning charities as part of its forthcoming Open Government Partnership national action plan.

‘The Government is due some credit for some of the measures that it has introduced over the past number of years, but it can’t afford to delay long-overdue reforms any further’, said Mr Devitt.

TI Ireland welcomed the publication of the Hamilton Review in 2020 on steps to tackle ‘white-collar crime’ which should lead to the development of a national anti-corruption strategy and other initiatives recommended in its submission to the review. TI Ireland also proposed the creation of an independent Anti-Corruption Bureau that would be dedicated to investigating political corruption and related offences and called for the provision of additional resources for the Garda Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit.


‘We need to take responsibility for the fight against corruption at a global level too. Corruption is the single biggest barrier to addressing the world’s most intractable problems, including climate breakdown. There is no incentive to wean the world off fossil fuels if kleptocrats continue to benefit from their countries’ stolen oil and gas revenues or profit from the destruction of natural habitats. European financial centres are being used by corrupt officials in resource-rich states to hide this illicit wealth. We will struggle to get to grips with both corruption and climate change if we don’t clamp down on banks and professionals that enable the flow of dirty money’, added Mr Devitt.

The launch event for the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index can be viewed on our Youtube channel here.


For the avoidance of doubt, neither TI nor TI Ireland directly attributes a country's rise or fall on the CPI to any individual. 

TI Ireland operates the Speak Up Helpline for whistleblowers, as well as witnesses and victims of fraud, corruption and other wrongdoing. Access to free legal advice for people making disclosures of wrongdoing is available from the Transparency Legal Advice Centre. The free-phone helpline (1800 844 866) is open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

TI Ireland’s Integrity at Work initiative aims at helping employers create safer working environments for their workers to speak up. Free guidance on whistleblowing is also available at