The Garda Anti-Corruption Unit is launching a tip-line for allegations of corruption and bribery after the office received fewer complaints than expected following its establishment last year.
Members of the public can call the phoneline and leave a message which will be evaluated by staff in the unit.
The Anti-Corruption Unit – a part of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) – was set up in 2017 in tandem with the passage of the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offence) legislation through the Oireachtas.
Since its establishment, the unit has not received as many reports as might be expected, according to Det Supt Gerard Walsh of the GNECB.
"We certainly are told bribery and corruption is endemic in Ireland. Reports show lots of employees believe it is endemic within their organisation," he told The Irish Times.
Det Supt Walsh pointed to a Eurobarometer report from 2013 showing 81 per cent of Irish people believed corruption was widespread in the country.
An updated report released this year shows 68 per cent believe it is widespread. By comparison, 22 per cent of Danes and 21 per cent of Finns believe it is widespread in their countries.
“We do get reports from time to time,” Det Supt Walsh said. “But we’re certainly not seeing the figures, that . . . 81 per cent of people in Ireland are experiencing corruption.”
He said he hoped the phone line would provide an idea of the scale of corruption offences in Irish society and if the unit required more resources.
“Obviously I’m reluctant to have a very, very big unit if I don’t have cases. There’s lots of other things that we could be investigating as well.”
However, it is more than just a scoping exercise, he said. “We are certainly looking for credible allegations to investigate.”
Det Supt Walsh said many people may not know certain instances of corruption are a crime. For example, they may not know the new legislation makes it an offence for businesses to pay bribes to officials both inside and outside the country.
He also said others may be afraid to come forward. “That’s what we’re trying to counteract. We’re trying to provide a service where people feel comfortable and can approach us without feeling they have to put their hands up and have to go to court.” Conversely, he expects the phone line will receive many reports which do not constitute corruption. Some will be theft or fraud offences rather than corruption, he said. Other reports will be people “reporting their own personal grievances”.
“We’ll just have to shift through that. That’s just a part of life.”
The Bribery and Corruption Confidential Reporting Line number is 1800 40 60 80.