Elaine Byrne 21/11/14
The Council of Europe (GRECO) today published it’s fourth evaluation round report on corruption in Ireland. Corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors contains eleven recommendations.
The recommendations are a timely intervention into the debate on political reform – much of which campaigners for reform have been advocating for some time. No surprises here – the strong focus on judges pay is interesting though. Much of it is echoes the European Commission report on corruption in Ireland published earlier this year.
1. The existing ethics framework be replaced with a uniform and consolidated values-based normative framework encompassing the ethical conduct of members of parliament – including their staff as appropriate – covering various situations of conflicts of interest (gifts and other advantages, third party contacts including lobbyists, accessory activities and post-employment situations etc.) with the aim of providing clear rules concerning their expected conduct;
2. Authorities clarify the scope of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013 so as to ensure that
the protections and encouragement for whistleblowers contained in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 are fully understood and
3. Existing regime on asset declarations be enhanced by i) extending the obligations upon all members of parliament to disclose their interests to include quantitative data on their significant financial and economic involvements as well as in respect of significant liabilities; and ii) that consideration be given to widening the scope of members’ declarations to also include close or connected persons, in line with the existing rules for office holders;
4. Establishment of a consolidated independent monitoring mechanism be considered in respect of members of parliament, that it
be provided with necessary means to investigate complaints as well as to sanction findings of misconduct and that all its decisions, including on the dismissal of cases are given an appropriate level of publicity;
5. Parliamentary authorities provide dedicated regular training for members of parliament on issues such as ethics, conduct in
situations of conflicts of interests and corruption prevention;
6. With due expedition, an independent statutory council be established for the judiciary, provided with adequate resources and
funding for its organisation and operations;
7. The current system for selection, recruitment, promotion and transfers of judges be reviewed with a view to target the
appointments to the most qualified and suitable candidates in a transparent way, without improper influence from the
8. Appropriate structure be established within the framework of which questions concerning constitutional safeguards of the judiciary in connection with employment conditions are to be examined – in close dialogue with judicial representatives – with a view to maintaining the high levels of judicial integrity and professional quality in the future;
9. Code of conduct for judges be formally established, including guidance and confidential counselling in respect of conflicts of interest and other integrity related matters (gifts, recusal, third party contacts and handling of confidential information etc.) and ii) connect such an instrument to an accountability mechanism;
10. Dedicated induction and in-service training for judges be institutionalised and adequately resourced, while respecting the
independence of the judiciary;
11. Policy for handling complaints against the Prosecution Service be enhanced with a view to i) establishing more independent
processing of matters concerning the integrity and ethical conduct of prosecutors and ii) further developing the statistics concerning such complaints.