16 March 2005
Ireland appears for the first time in an annual summary of sleaze from around the world today (16 March 2005). The Global Corruption Report, the only independent review of corruption around the world conducted annually, is published by Transparency International (TI), the leading non-governmental organisation fighting corruption worldwide.
The country review outlines the history and outcomes of the three main tribunals in Ireland since 1997, explaining the background to their formation and touches on the impact that they have had on the Irish political scene since then. The report also recommends that the current round of tribunals be allowed to finish their work.
The summary compliments many of the reforms to institutions and legislation to combat corruption over the past decade. Nevertheless, the author of the report on Ireland, Dr. Gary Murphy of Dublin City University, points out that it is “impossible to state with certainty just how accountable decision-making processes really are.”
Commenting on the Morris tribunal, Dr Murphy also calls for an Ombudsman’s office to be established with similar powers to that seen in Northern Ireland. The Garda Reform Bill, which instead provides for a three-man investigatory commission, is expected to be passed by the Oireachtas this summer.
The main theme of this year’s Global Corruption Report is that of corruption in the international construction sector. The report pays particular attention to reconstruction efforts in Iraq. It highlights the cost of corruption in the aftermath of the US led invasion and warns that if urgent steps are not taken to improve transparency, Iraq “will become the biggest corruption scandal in history”.
The light shed on corruption through tribunals may have affected Ireland’s position on a list of the world’s least corrupt countries. Ireland lay in 12th position on TI’s Corruption Perception Index in 1997. Ireland now stands in 17th place out of 146 countries. The index measures attitudes to corruption as captured in various domestic and international business surveys.
Tribunals of Inquiry are estimated to have cost the Irish taxpayer €200 million to date. An additional €1.6 billion in unexpected funds has been collected by the Revenue Commissioners since the tribunals started their work.
In response to these and other issues raised over the past decade, a National Integrity Systems Study will be conducted by TI Ireland this year. The study will look at how transparent decision making really is in Ireland and will serve as an annual benchmark for future research on corruption.
Transparency International (Ireland) was founded in December 2004. Its Board of Directors is Tom Arnold, Dr. Valerie Bresnihan, Paul Cullen, John Donnelly, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, Eithne Fitzgerald, Colm McCarthy, Dr. Eleanor O’Higgins.