Media Contact – John Devitt, 086 173 5040
Anti-corruption group repeats call for curbs on cash in politics and whistleblower safeguards for those reporting concerns in the public interest.
Dublin, 26 October 2010 – Ireland’s position on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) remains stable but there are worrying signs that corruption is still not being addressed by the Government, business and non-profit groups. The 2010 results were published today by Transparency International (TI).
Ireland’s score has remained at 8 out of 10 and Ireland sits in 14th place on the table of 178 countries. A score close to 10 suggests relatively low levels of corruption. The countries perceived to be the least corrupt in the world are Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore on a joint score of 9.3.
Despite the relatively good score, John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland highlighted the dangers of complacency."The CPI is a measure of how corrupt international business leaders and academics perceive a country’s public sector. Unfortunately there have been many instances where the fragile nature of Ireland’s anti-corruption standards have been exposed but have gone relatively unnoticed, both at home and abroad.’
‘The events over the past few years show that you don’t have to break the law to be corrupt. Politicians and special interests have combined to make decisions for a very powerful minority at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. We can start to deal with the problem by controlling the flow of money into Irish politics and encouraging people to come forward and protecting them when they speak up in the public interest”, said Mr. Devitt.
Mr. Devitt pointed to the recent arrest of Laura Lyons, a teacher who exposed misuse of funds and improper practices at a technical college in Waterford city. “There are many other individuals like Laura who have blown the whistle on waste and wrongdoing, and have faced arrest or legal action as a result", he added.
“Imagine if you are an employee of a State body or financial institution and you want to expose wrongdoing or corruption. How motivated would you be to blow the whistle if you thought you were going to be arrested for doing so?” Mr. Devitt asked.
Transparency welcomed the recent anti-corruption investigations led by the Criminal Assets Bureau but criticised the Government’s current approach to whistleblower protection which only protects employees in selected categories. The anti-corruption group claims that people working across the public, private and non-profit sectors continue to be exposed to dismissal or legal reprisals for reporting concerns in the public interest.
Transparency has also called on the Irish Red Cross (IRC) to set a good example for other non-profit organisations by commissioning an independent review of claims made by its Head of International Department, Noel Wardick and by suspending its disciplinary action against him until the findings of an independent review are published. Mr. Wardick publicly aired his concerns about financial management and governance at the charity, and has been suspended since August of this year.
“Employers should do the right thing by those who honestly report their concerns and act on the information at hand. The Irish Red Cross is not the only organisation to have faced the kind of challenges that Mr. Wardick has claimed it faces. It would be a shame if his reports were to end in his dismissal”, said Mr. Devitt.
Notes for editors
Transparency will host a public meeting on perceptions of corruption at 6pm tonight (26 October) in the Central Hotel, Exchequer Street, Dublin 2. Anyone interested in attending can call 01 612 7067 or email us at email@example.com.
The European Commission is supporting the launch of a free-phone helpline for witnesses, whistleblowers, victims of corruption and fraud, and people accessing official information. The helpline will be run by Transparency International Ireland and will be opened later this year.
The most recent Eurobarometer survey on corruption showed that 78% of Irish respondents believed the government’s efforts to combat corruption were ineffective while only 32% believed the prosecution rate for bribery offences was sufficient to deter potential bribe payers and receivers.
The recent Edelmann trust index recorded a 15% decrease in trust in business amongst the Irish public during the 2007-2010 period, whilst the UK, Germany and France experienced a combined increase of 4%.
The Corruption Perceptions Index is published annually by Transparency International and measures international business and expert perceptions of levels of public sector corruption around the world. Six surveys conducted by think tanks including the World Economic Forum and the Economist Intelligence Unit were used in compiling Ireland's results.