Ireland begins move towards joining global transparency plan

Public meetings held in attempt to create Government action plan

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said  Ireland’s involvement in the Open Government Partnership would give ‘momentum’ to the Government’s own plans to improve accountability.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said Ireland’s involvement in the Open Government Partnership would give ‘momentum’ to the Government’s own plans to improve accountability.

 

Moves to make Ireland more accountable and transparent are underway with public meetings being held aimed at formulating a Government action plan as part of a global initiative in the area.

The Open Government Partnership was kickstarted by US president Barack Obama in 2011 to make governments more open and accessible to citizens.

The Government hopes by the end of the year to complete the action plan and join the partnership early next year, which includes 55 countries which have delivered on commitments.

A public meeting was held on July 10th and two more are planned for August 8th and September 5th involving anti-corruption experts, open data specialists, environmental activists, social justice advocates, development organisations, youth and community groups.

Proposals from these meetings will go to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

His department will then consult further with civil society as well as with business interests, trade unions and other Government departments ahead of a finalisation of the action plan.

Mr Howlin said Ireland’s involvement in the partnership would give “momentum” to the Government’s own plans in the area, including whistleblower legislation, a law to regulate lobbying, reform of freedom of information rules and strengthening the powers of the Ombudsman.

An “ambitious and challenging” action plan was needed that could be added to in the years ahead, said Nuala Haughey of Transparency International Ireland.

The Open Government Partnership was started on the margins of the UN general assembly in September 2011 and got support from Mr Obama and other leaders. It is run by a steering committee composed of governments and civil society organisations.

Action plans in other countries include:

l A national survey in Norway to gauge opinion on public services

l A pledge by Georgia to map crime, which allows the police to monitor the geographic distribution of crimes better and to bring in preventive measures

l A national registry in Brazil of companies committed to ethics and integrity aimed at addressing corruption

l A Canadian directive on open government to bring in consistency and standards on open publishing across government departments and agencies

l A single governmental web portal in Ukraine giving information on services

Ireland has been “smartly late” in beginning the process of joining the partnership now because the “concept has had time to mature”, said Paul Maassen, the partnership’s civil society coordinator.

Anyone wanting to take part in events or make an online submission can go to www.ogpireland.ie.

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