Ireland's corruption ranking slips


Lack of action on the Moriarty tribunal’s findings has been blamed for Ireland slipping down a world ranking on corruption perception.

Ireland now sits behind Uruguay and the Bahamas in 25th place of the index, compiled by Transparency International.

The group warns the results could hurt Ireland’s economic recovery by turning investors away, frightened by the idea that Government decisions are not been taken in a fair and equitable manner. “Small, open economies are much more exposed to reputational risk than their more powerful counterparts,” said John Devitt, chief executive of Transparency International Ireland.

The ranking is the lowest ever for Ireland and is an 11-place descent from just two years ago.

The index – which draws on surveys of experts and businesspeople - gives an assessment of a country’s political risk and is used by credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s as a way of measuring the potential for sovereign debt default.

The Moriarty and Mahon tribunals showed how corruption and payments to politicians existed at Government level, while the lack of holding people to account was having an effect on how the country was perceived, the group said.

“There appears to have been very little action taken on foot of the publication of the final Moriarty tribunal report, while the Taoiseach’s decision to make public appearances with Denis O’Brien after the publication of the report will have done our international reputation no favours,” said Mr Devitt.

Countries topping the index are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand – all jointly tied in first place. Other European states ahead of Ireland include Switzerland, the Netherlands, Iceland, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, the UK and France. Uruguay is ranked 20 while the Bahamas is ranked 22. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia all rank at the bottom, in 174th place.

The group urged the Government to bring more transparency to the public sector, along with reforms to give the Oireachtas more powers. “Our reputation for cronyism and other forms of corruption will drive many honest businesses towards more open and well regulated economies," Mr Devitt added.

Transparency International Ireland in 2009 estimated the Government could be losing €1 billion a year in investment from abroad because of its relatively low position in the index, which then was 14th place.

The Moriarty tribunal in 1997 began investigating payments to politicians. It found businessman Denis O’Brien made payments to former minister for communications Michael Lowry, who “secured the winning” of a mobile phone licence in 1995 for him. Both men deny the findings.

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