Irish public’s confidence in officials relatively high – corruption survey

Over two-thirds think ‘sextortion’ is a serious problem, but just 4% have fallen foul of it

Over 60 per cent of people in Ireland believe corruption is a likely factor in the award of valuable public contracts. Photograph: iStock

Over 60 per cent of people in Ireland believe corruption is a likely factor in the award of valuable public contracts. Photograph: iStock

 

More than two-thirds of people in Ireland believe “sextortion”, the practice of demanding sexual favours in return for services, is a problem, according to a new survey examining confidence in officialdom.

However, just 4 per cent of people said they had fallen foul of such practices, while five per cent confessed to paying bribes.

Despite a relatively widespread belief in murky closed-door practices, Irish people’s confidence in their officials is considerably higher than many others across Europe.

The Global Corruption Barometer – European Union, a survey of 40,000 people (including 1,000 in Ireland) was released by Transparency International on Tuesday.

Despite low levels of reported corruption in Ireland, 63 per cent of people here believe it is a likely factor in the award of valuable public contracts. More than a quarter (28 per cent) admitted using personal connections to solve a problem with public servants and 14 per cent to avoid problems such as checkpoints, fines or even arrest.

Big interests

Forty per cent of those surveyed believe the Irish Government is “pretty much run by a few big interests” and yet only 23 per cent said they believed corruption had increased over the previous year. That compares with an EU average of 32 per cent.

“A sizeable percentage of the Irish public believe that corruption and illicit influence are still affecting some key government functions,” said John Devitt, chief executive of Transparency International Ireland.

While the Government had done much to tackle corruption offences, Mr Devitt said, there was more to be done and he criticised the lapsing of the Public Sector Standards Bill last year.

Some 42 per cent of Irish people believe authorities rarely, if ever, take appropriate action against officials up to no good. Still, just 35 per cent see corruption as either quite a big or very big problem compared with a combined average of 62 per cent in Europe.

Public confidence in the Government’s Covid-19 response is also relatively high in Ireland, the survey found, at 66 per cent satisfaction on transparency, compared with 44 per cent in the bloc.