Stamping out corruption

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The RTÉ Prime Time Investigates report on corruption among some councillors broadcast last night inevitably draws a reaction of how do we rid a country of corruption. A simple answer might be to stop electing probably corrupt candidates. Charles Haughey continued to get elected even though rumours that he amassed his fortune corruptly were rife. Michael Lowry continues to get elected despite the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal, and if a fellow with the nickname ‘Stroke’ later gets convicted for corruption, surely his electors knew what they were doing.

Another reaction is to Continue reading

Political parties, like other public bodies, need to have their accounts fully audited

The ongoing standoff between the Minister for the Environment and the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) is yet another signal of just how much this government has backtracked on its supposed commitment to open government.

At the heart of this issue is what level of party accounts should be made available for auditing and public scrutiny. The Minister (and in fairness, it seems all the other parties with him – I stand ready to be corrected on this ☺) is of the view that the legislation (the Electoral (Political Funding) Act, 2012) requires that the parties need to only audit their national accounts. SIPO disagrees. As a letter this week from the outgoing SIPO Chair (published on their website here) makes clear their legal advice, on the contrary, is that the auditing should also extend to the sub-national units (i.e. the party branches) of the parties’ organizations. Continue reading

Business Money and Political Corruption in Ireland

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By Iain McMenamin

The study of corruption and political finance in Ireland has tended to be qualitative.  This has made it difficult to determine whether problems related to a relatively small number of individuals of the system as a whole.  My article, “Business Financing of Politics in Ireland: Theory, Evidence and Reform” in the current issue of Irish Political Studies uses disclosed data to study the potential for corruption. Continue reading

Reform proposals don’t target corruption

By Iain McMenamin (30 March, 2011)

The Moriarty Tribunal’s report details an exchange between a politician and businessman, the like of which cannot easily be targeted by political reforms. Politicians have a demand for cash and can supply lucrative private goods to business, such as a mobile phone licence. The political demand for cash in Ireland is already limited compared to other countries such as the USA and Australia because paid broadcast advertising is not allowed. The Criminal Assets Bureau has great potential to recoup illicit cash from politicians. Continue reading

Is a proper register of lobbyists finally on the way or is this the politics of the long finger?

by Gary Murphy (July 29 2010)

It seems that the Minister for the Environment John Gormley is ready to move on implementing a register of lobbyists. Speaking at a meeting of Green Party members in Limerick last weekend, he said that he intended to change the way politics was funded and to curb the influence of lobbyists, when the Dáil returns in September. Gormley said that his planned reforms on corporate donations to political parties would also involve the introduction of a register of lobbyists to regulate their activities. Strongly criticising the influence of lobbyists in the political process, Gormely noted:

“These individuals or companies who are paid handsomely by companies to achieve certain policy objectives have ready access to those in power. Many of them have previously been involved in political parties and know the system and the personalities. They also know the journalists and opinion formers. The influence of lobbyists is pervasive and at times pernicious. This is why we need a register of lobbyists to regulate their activities. It would immediately allow the public to identify these individuals and the causes they espouse.”

And for those of us who have been calling for such a register for a number of years, we might say hurrah for John Gormley. Continue reading

Freedom of Information and Corruption

by Donal O’Brolcáin (June 21, 2010)

On Wednesday last, 16th June 2010, in a talk on BBC Radio 4 Dan Lucas, London correspondent for the Swedish Dagens Nyheter newspaper, gave an overview of Swedish-style Freedom of Information laws, as part of a talk in the three part series ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’. (As of this Sunday evening, the podcast can be listened for another 3 days here). Continue reading

Callely puts Oireachtas expenses in spotlight

The ongoing debacle over expenses involving Fianna Fáil senators Callely and Butler is symbolic of a number of shortcomings in our political system – notably the lack of transparency and inadequate regulatory controls over all aspects of party finance (about which, see the previous posting here). The Oireachtas website helpfully sets out the details of the existing regulations and provides up to date information on monthly allowances to TDs and Senators (information that has fed the current controversy over the two senators). There can be no doubt that this is a welcome development; it’s fine time that citizens had access to this sort of information. Continue reading