Local Green Party representative Joe O’Brien has called on Fingal County Council to publish the details of Councillors’ financial interests. On an annual basis Councillors are required to submit a declaration form detailing their various financial and property interests. On investigation Mr. O’Brien discovered that the declaration forms can only be viewed in County Hall by presenting in person. In response he stated the following:
Locked away in a dusty room in County Hall is no place for this important information which is of great public interest and importance. For the transparency of our political system it is vital that the Council now publishes these declarations on its website. This is not about pointing fingers at any individual but we all know there has been very damaging political corruption at local and national level. As a Green Party representative I feel a particular responsibility to shine light in the not so well lit corners of our political system. Corruption is not just about a few bad apples it was also about a system that facilitated it.
Our public representatives need to be held to the highest standards and open to public scrutiny and this information, while personal to some extent, needs to easily accessible and visible to the public. I have written to the County Manager to ask him to change Fingal County Council policy in relation to declarations of interest and publish this information on its website – the same way that Dublin City Council does. It would take little more than 30 minutes to scan and upload these declarations to the FCC website so there is certainly no argument against this proposal on the basis of cost.
The declarations are due at the end of February each year so I hope that sometime in March we see this important information on the FCC website. I have also written to Minister Hogan on this matter as it transpires that it is not national policy that such declarations are published. If declarations of interest were nationally published on all local authority websites more would be done for political transparency than Minister Hogan has done in his whole tenure. There is a big difference between information that is available to the public in limited circumstances and information that is truly accessible to the public and the complacency displayed by this government in not rooting out every hint or possibility of corruption is something the public should be truly worried about.