Government 'has never valued transparency'

 

JOURNALIST AND broadcaster Susan O’Keefe has claimed the Government’s disregard for transparency or honesty consistently sent the wrong signals to the State’s businesses and played a role in the current economic crisis.

Speaking at the publication of the Transparency International report into the risk of corruption and abuse of power in government, politics, business, civil society and the media yesterday, O’Keefe said a culture which frowned on whistleblowers existed in the Republic.

The journalist’s World in Action programme on the Irish beef industry led to the establishment of the Beef tribunal. She said yesterday that throughout the course of her investigations, she was repeatedly told to walk away and not ask any questions “for the good of Ireland”.

She said that in the intervening years she has frequently been accused of damaging the State’s reputation. “I was shocked and I certainly did not take the view that it was ever in Ireland’s interest to not ask the questions.”

According to O’Keefe, the Government has “never valued transparency and never valued honesty” and she said its failure to lead in an open and transparent manner had sent out the wrong signals to businesses. She said whistleblowers needed the full protection of the State and the absence of such protection had made it “very difficult” for people who had seen the extent of corruption going on in some businesses “to stand up and say stop”.

“People are afraid they will lose their jobs if they say anything. That is a very real fear. There is no protection given here . . .

“The Government has got away with that and will go on getting away with it because it is very difficult for individuals to stand up and say something is wrong. They are afraid and who could blame them,” she concluded.