Ireland enters top 10 of countries seen as having least public corruption, index suggests

Report from Transparency International finds western Europe perceived as least corrupt region in world

Ireland’s relatively good showing in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index will be used to suggest it does not have a corruption problem, says Transparency International Ireland chief executive John Davitt. 'Nothing could be further from the truth.'

Ireland has been ranked 10th among all countries in the world in terms of being the least affected by corruption, moving ahead of countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

It is the first time the Republic has been placed in the top 10 by the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index since the index was first published in 1995. It means the Republic has outranked Australia (13th), Canada (14th) and the UK (20).

The 2022 rankings placed the Republic in 10th place, scoring 77 points out of 100, with Denmark (90), Finland (87) and New Zealand (87) taking the top three positions in terms of least corrupt countries. South Sudan (13), Syria (13) and Somalia (12) were designated the world’s most corrupt countries in the 180-country index.

The Irish score of 77 is a significant increase on its 2021 score of 74 points in a “perception index” that aggregates data from different international sources on perceptions by experts of the level of corruption in the public sector in each state considered.


Among the 13 bodies from which the data is accumulated are Economist Intelligence, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the World Economic Forum.

“Ireland has experienced relatively few corruption-related scandals over the past five years,” said John Davitt, chief executive of Transparency International Ireland. “This contrasts with the period from 1997 to 2012 when the proceedings and findings of the Mahon and Moriarty tribunals frequently made national and international headlines.

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“Since then, the Oireachtas has passed new laws on whistleblowing, lobbying regulation and anti-corruption. However, international perceptions of Ireland did not shift significantly until this year and it would appear that the absence of any major controversy has influenced perceptions as much as any reform.”

Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany were in the 10 least corrupt countries, while the worst 10 performers in the index included Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, North Korea, Libya, Yemen and Venezuela.

Western Europe/the European Union was the global region with the best record, according to the index, with an average score of 66. Denmark was at the top and Hungary at the bottom (42). The worst region was sub-Saharan Africa, with the Seychelles at the top (70) and Somalia at the bottom.

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Asia/Pacific was the second-best region, with an average score of 45, with New Zealand at the top and North Korea at the bottom (17). Then came the Americas, with Canada and Uruguay at the top (both 74) and Venezuela at the bottom (14). The Middle East/North Africa had an average score of 38, with the United Arab Emirates at the top (67) and Syria scoring the worst. Eastern Europe/Central Asia averaged 35, with Georgia (56) at the top and Turkmenistan (19) at the bottom.

Ireland’s relatively good showing on the index will be used to suggest that it does not have a corruption problem, said Mr Davitt. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He also said there was no doubt but Ireland played “a central role in fuelling corruption overseas” and cited as matters for concern the use of Irish limited partnerships by entities in secrecy jurisdictions, and the changes to accessing the Register of Beneficial Ownership of corporate entities.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent