Council of Europe
The Group of States against Corruption (“GRECO”), a body established by the Council of Europe, published its fourth evaluation report on corruption prevention in Ireland on 21 November 2014. GRECO’s objective is “to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with Council of Europe anti-corruption standards through a dynamic process of mutual evaluation and peer pressure”. Previous GRECO reports on corruption prevention in Ireland have addressed issues of bribery and the funding of political parties.
While GRECO praised the transparency of the Irish legislative process and the independence of the judiciary and prosecution service, it highlighted a growing concern regarding corruption in Ireland. GRECO has, therefore, made a number of recommendations to safeguard the independence of such functions, as follows:
- The current structure for ethical standards and conduct of members of parliament is viewed as complex and is currently spread across various statutes, guidelines and codes of conduct. The GRECO report recommends a consolidated values-based framework to regulate the conduct of members of parliament in addition to broader obligations for asset declarations.
- In relation to the judiciary, GRECO recommends the reform of the current system for the appointment and promotion of judges, the establishment of a statutory judicial council, and a code of ethical conduct linked to an accountability mechanism.
- GRECO also recommends greater transparency and an enhanced organisational structure to receive and handle complaints in relation to the integrity and ethical conduct of the DPP and the Gardaí in their role as public prosecutors.
On 23 October 2014, Transparency International launched its tenth annual enforcement review of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The purpose of the Convention is to eliminate bribery of foreign public officials by prosecuting companies in their home countries for offences of bribery committed abroad. Ireland was ranked as conducting “little or no enforcement” of the Convention and was one of 22 countries with this ranking out of the 40 signatory countries to the Convention. Transparency International attributes the poor levels of enforcement in many countries to a lack of political will to prosecute large companies and a lack of resources to investigate complex white collar crime.
On 3 December 2014, Transparency International published a further report, the 2014 edition of its Corruption Perceptions Index. The Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 175 countries / territories by means of a combination of surveys and assessments of corruption, collected from independent institutions. Ireland has improved its ranking to 17, up from 21 in 2013, meaning it is perceived as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Ireland’s ranking in 2014 is tied with that of the United States, Hong Kong and Barbados. Denmark was perceived as the least corrupt country, while North Korea and Somalia were perceived as the most corrupt countries.