I have previously written about the Government’s failure to take issues of corruption seriously, particularly in its failure to adopt recommendations from the Mahon Tribunal in relation to the planning process. This failure is having very real and current consequences – Ireland is still perceived to be a corrupt country. The following is an excerpt from a Transparency International Ireland statement from ealier this week:
Ireland suffers sharpest drop on Corruption Perceptions Index in its history
Dublin, 5 December 2012
A global index measuring perceptions of corruption in 176 countries gives Ireland its worst ever ranking and suggests that corruption is a bigger problem here than in some developing nations including Uruguay and the Bahamas. Ireland is now ranked in 25th place in the Corruption Perceptions Index conducted annually by Transparency International (TI). The worst performing countries are Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia. Denmark, Finland and New Zealand are perceived to be the least corrupt countries of those surveyed.
The index is one of the most commonly used measures of political risk and is used by credit risk agency Standard and Poor’s to assess the likelihood of sovereign debt default. According to John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland, ‘If investors believe government decisions are being swayed by political or private gain, it could have a harmful effect for our economic recovery. Small, open economies are much more exposed to reputational risk that their more powerful counterparts. Risk-averse and politically aware investors will also look elsewhere when deciding where to locate or do business if they suspect that favoured businesses and government are in bed with one another’.
The poor results come after a succession of political controversies. The Moriarty and Mahon Tribunals published negative findings against politicians and business people after 15 year-long investigations into corruption and payments to government ministers. There was further controversy a year after the publication of the final Moriarty Tribunal report when the Taoiseach shared a platform at Wall Street with Denis O’Brien, a leading businessman linked to clandestine payments to the former minister for communications, Michael Lowry. Mr Lowry was found to have influenced the award of the second mobile phone licence to Mr O’Brien’s consortium in 1995.