GRECO, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body recently published its Fourth Round Compliance Report on Ireland which focuses on corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors.

The Council of Europe is actively engaged in fighting corruption at European level. Among other things, it has adopted multifaceted standard setting instruments aimed at improving the capacity of states to fight corruption both domestically and internationally, including in particular the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption ("Convention"). It has also created the Group of States Against Corruption ("GRECO") which monitors member states' compliance with Council of Europe anti-corruption standards. GRECO helps to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies with the aim of prompting the necessary legislative, institutional and practical reforms. Ireland is a member of both the Council of Europe and of GRECO and has signed and ratified the Convention.

GRECO monitors anti-corruption compliance in cycles, called evaluation rounds, each covering specific themes. It is currently on its fourth evaluation round which concentrates on the prevention of corruption in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. GRECO adopted its Fourth Round Evaluation Report on Ireland in 2014. This report contains 11 recommendations ("Recommendations") designed to remedy deficiencies in Ireland's corruption prevention measures in the relevant areas.

GRECO's latest report on Ireland, published in June 2017, assesses Ireland's compliance with the Recommendations, which it deems to be "globally unsatisfactory" as a number of the Recommendations have only been implemented partially, or not at all.

Specifically, while Ireland has fully implemented the Recommendations in respect of prosecutors, it has only partially implemented the majority of the Recommendations regarding corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament and has failed to implemented any of the Recommendations regarding judges. However, the Report acknowledges that its Recommendations regarding members of parliament will be largely addressed once the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015 is enacted.

The Recommendations regarding the judiciary primarily focus on:

  • the manner in which judges are appointed;
  • establishing an appropriate structure to deal with questions regarding constitutional safeguards of the judiciary in connection with employment conditions;
  • establishing a formal code of conduct for judges and connecting this code to an accountability mechanism; and
  • providing an adequately resourced institutional framework for induction and in-service training for judges.

Next steps for Ireland

Ireland has been requested to address any outstanding recommendations and to report back to GRECO by 31 March 2018 for further assessment. The Minister for Justice has established a Senior Officials Compliance Committee to ensure that progress on implementation is made in the meantime. Since the Report was published, the Government has published the Judicial Council Bill 2017 and the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017, both of which are now before the Oireachtas.

You can access the Report here.