Howlin says ethics framework will be drawn up
A LEGISLATIVE framework for ethics in public office is to be drawn up involving all Government departments, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said.
Describing the Mahon tribunal report as a “watershed”, Mr Howlin said he had decided to engage in a full review of how the existing legislative framework for ethics could be reformed. This would develop “a single, comprehensive and overarching framework” grounded on a clear and comprehensive set of principles. This considerable undertaking would cross all departments and sectors.
“I remain committed to continuing to drive forward the Government’s reform programme on behalf of, and in conjunction with, all of my colleagues in government, with a view to ensuring that ethical values are and will be seen to be fully addressed and reinforced in Irish public life.”
Mr Howlin was speaking during a debate on the tribunal’s recommendations.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said the Government’s response summarised actions on each of the tribunal’s 64 recommendations, with 29 already implemented or in the process of implementation, either partly or in full.
Mr Hogan said standards must be set down and robust regulations introduced, not just to prevent future wrongdoing but also to prove to the citizens the State’s future would be shaped honestly and honourably.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the commitments given to advance work on the tribunal’s recommendations, and the progress already made, reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to change any perception that corrupt behaviour could ever again be tolerated in public office or that a blind eye might again be cast on such behaviour.
Niall Collins (FF) said some people who were not household names had ease of access to the corridors of power and to decision-makers. “That must be equalised and the system must be put on a level playing pitch so that everyone knows who people are talking to about public policy,” he added.
Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit) said it was important to underline what Mahon had said. “Mahon said there was endemic corruption in Irish political life. That means it was rampant across Irish political life.”