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Irish public bodies and universities need to do more to showcase their commitment to openness and accountability, according to new Transparency International Ireland report

11 November 2021

Ervia, on 77%, achieved the highest overall score on the NII for Public Bodies, followed by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) on 72%. 

Transparency International (TI) Ireland has today launched its National Integrity Index (NII) report on public sector bodies. The report assesses how well prepared 30 of Ireland’s semi-states and universities are to face corruption-related risks through an evaluation of their policies and public disclosure. It examines disclosure practices in five areas: anti-corruption and anti-bribery programmes, financial transparency, open governance, responsible political engagement, and whistleblowing policies. 

The results show that although most of the organisations assessed were disclosing information on their structures and decision-making processes, they had disclosed little information on specific anti-corruption measures. Most had not made unambiguous public commitments to zero tolerance of corruption and bribery. This contrasts with the results of the NII – Private Sector report published earlier this year, which showed that the companies assessed were more transparent about their anti-corruption programmes than they were about their corporate structures. Both sectors, however, could be more transparent regarding financial information and safeguards around lobbying and political engagement.

‘Despite ongoing steps to reform Ireland’s anti-corruption framework, TI’s research has revealed that a significant proportion [35%] of the Irish public believes corruption to be a “big problem”. Robust anti-corruption measures can address corruption risks but communicating those measures to the public is key to demonstrating a commitment to integrity and reinforcing public confidence in public bodies’, said Catherine Lawlor, Advocacy and Research Coordinator at TI Ireland.

Ervia, on 77%, achieved the highest overall score on the NII for Public Bodies, followed by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) on 72%. Just nine other organisations were awarded half or more of the available points, achieving between 50% and 57% each. The average overall score was 43%.



Overall score


An Post



Bord na Móna PLC



Coillte CGA



Córas Iompair Éireann



daa plc



Dublin City University



Dublin Port Company



EirGrid PLC



Electricity Supply Board






Galway Harbour Company (t/a Port of Galway)



Greyhound Racing Ireland / Rásaíocht Con Éireann(formerly Bord na gCon)



Horse Racing Ireland



Irish Aviation Authority



Irish National Stud DAC



Maynooth University



National University of Ireland Galway



Personal Injuries Assessment Board



Port of Cork Company



Port of Waterford Company






Shannon Foynes Port Company



Shannon Group PLC



Teilifís na Gaeilge



Trinity College Dublin



TU Dublin



University College Cork



University College Dublin



University of Limerick





The interactive table lists the organisations alphabetically and gives their overall score and ranking in the index.

TI Ireland has made eight recommendations aimed at improving anti-corruption systems and disclosure practices in the public sector, including semi-states and universities:

  1. Publish governance documents and make them easily accessible to the public online.
  2. Make disclosure of policies meaningful through monitoring and reporting on performance.
  3. Set the tone from the top with an unambiguous high-level commitment against corruption and bribery.
  4. Equip employees with the training and resources to implement anti-corruption measures.
  5. Publish a comprehensive, proactive, risk-based anti-corruption and anti-bribery programme.
  6. Provide clear information on asset disposal and procurement procedures and disclose details of procurement contracts awarded.
  7. Commit to a policy on responsible political engagement and greater transparency in lobbying.
  8. Adopt a standalone whistleblowing policy that does not include a ‘good faith’ requirement.

‘While public bodies largely comply with their legal obligations in respect of transparency and accountability, compliance is not enough. They need to be far more proactive in publishing information that shows how they manage public resources and that they have adequate anti-corruption safeguards in place. We hope this study will help semi-states and universities build public trust in our institutions by going beyond the letter of the law and by meeting the highest standards possible’, said John Devitt, TI Ireland Chief Executive.

Scores were strongest in the Open Governance category, in which nine organisations achieved full marks: An Post, Bord na Móna, Coillte, CIÉ, Dublin Port Company, ESB, Ervia, Greyhound Racing Ireland, and RTÉ. None of the 30 organisations scored fewer than 70% of the available points in this category, and the average score was 90%. This is reflective of a generally high level of transparency regarding Board membership and operations, Audit and Risk Committee independence, and the organisation’s structure and relationship with the State.

The second strongest category was Whistleblowing, in which Dublin Port Company and CIÉ scored 88% and three universities – Dublin City University, NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin – achieved 75%. It is notable, however, that the average score in this category was only 47%, a significant drop from the average of 90% in the Open Governance category. In many cases, organisations had not made their whistleblowing policies public or had included a requirement that disclosures be made ‘in good faith’ – a reference to motivation, which is not in line with the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, under which a whistleblower’s motivation is irrelevant.

Average scores in the categories on Anti-Corruption Programmes and Financial Transparency were 38% and 31% respectively, due mainly to a general lack of public disclosure of relevant policies, procedures and reporting on corruption risk controls, procurement, budgets and charitable or community donations. Some organisations ran counter to this trend, with Ervia and ESB, the highest scoring organisations overall, scoring 100% and 94% respectively on Anti-Corruption Programmes. Greyhound Racing Ireland on 58% and Horse Racing Ireland on 57% were the highest scoring organisations in the Financial Transparency category and had both made budgetary information available on their websites.

Organisations performed most poorly in respect of their transparency around Responsible Political Engagement. In this category, the average score was just 15%, with almost half (13) of the organisations assessed having scored no marks whatsoever in connection with disclosure of their procedures around risks associated with political engagement and, for instance, the ‘revolving door’ movement of staff from the public to private sectors.

The following 30 organisations were selected for assessment from the Central Statistics Office’s Register of Public Sector Bodies: An Post DAC, Bord na Móna PLC, Coillte CGA, Córas Iompair Éireann, daa plc, Dublin City University, Dublin Port Company DAC, EirGrid PLC, Electricity Supply Board, Ervia, Galway Harbour Company DAC (t/a The Port of Galway), Greyhound Racing Ireland, Horse Racing Ireland, Irish Aviation Authority DAC, Irish National Stud DAC, Maynooth University, National University of Ireland Galway, Personal Injuries Assessment Board, Port of Cork Company DAC, Port of Waterford Company DAC, RTÉ, Shannon Foynes Port Company DAC, Shannon Group PLC, Teilifís na Gaeilge, Trinity College Dublin, Technological University Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, and VHI Group DAC.

A recording of the report launch is available here and the accompany presentation can be viewed here.

Notes for editors

Founded in 2004, Transparency International (TI) Ireland is the Irish chapter of Transparency International, the global organisation dedicated to stopping corruption worldwide.

TI Ireland’s National Integrity Index (NII) project is a series of reports and indices measuring, based on the information they disclose to the public, the degree to which organisations across the public and private sectors in Ireland are prepared to address corruption-related risks. It is based on methodology applied in numerous Transparency in Corporate Reporting reports published since 2008 by Transparency International and its chapters in more than 30 countries.

TI Ireland carried out NII studies on local authorities and the private sector in Ireland in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and a further NII report on public bodies will be published in early 2022. If funding allows, TI Ireland intends to conduct further assessments of disclosure practices on a biannual basis so that the organisations assessed and their stakeholders can monitor their progress.

The National Integrity Index research series is published with the support of the Community Foundation for Ireland. However, it reflects the views of TI Ireland alone.

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