Corruption index: State improved marginally in 2021

Republic’s score improved from 72 to 74, in a ranking of 180 countries

The State‘s level of corruption improved marginally last year, placing it in joint 13th position in 2021 on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Photograph: David Sleator

The State‘s level of corruption improved marginally last year, placing it in joint 13th position in 2021 on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Photograph: David Sleator

 

The State’s level of corruption improved marginally last year, placing it in joint 13th position in 2021 on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

The Republic’s score on the CPI improved from 72 to 74, in a ranking of 180 countries based on levels of corruption. Ireland’s score is based on the findings of eight separate surveys and studies, conducted by international think-tanks and political risk agencies.

The more a country receives out of 100, the less it is perceived to be affected by public-sector corruption.

Ireland was on the same level as countries including Canada, Iceland, Estonia and Austria in 2021.

The best performing countries according to the index were Denmark, followed by Finland and New Zealand, all with a joint score of 88, while the worst performing countries were South Sudan (11), followed by Syria (13) and Somalia (13).

Chief executive of Transparency International, John Devitt, said that while Ireland performed relatively well in comparison to most countries on the CPI, that was “no indicator of actual levels of corruption here”.

The best performing countries according to the index were Denmark, followed by Finland and New Zealand, all with a joint score of 88. Image: Transparency International Ireland
The best performing countries according to the index were Denmark, followed by Finland and New Zealand, all with a joint score of 88. Image: Transparency International Ireland

“The risk of corruption is still underestimated in local government, companies and state bodies and our last public survey, the Global Corruption Barometer, showed that a large proportion of the public think corruption is a problem,” he said.

If the Government is to restore public confidence in its ability to stop abuse or misuse of power, Mr Devitt said, “it needs to accelerate efforts to promote transparency and accountability in public office”.

Index

Speaking at a webinar to promote the annual index, Mr Devitt said the State needed to be “far more proactive in sharing information about public contracts” and proposed the creation of an independent Anti-Corruption Bureau that would be dedicated to investigating political corruption.

Transparency International Ireland called for the restoration of the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015, which lapsed at the last election.

The worst performing countries were South Sudan (11), followed by Syria (13) and Somalia (13). Image: Transparency International Ireland
The worst performing countries were South Sudan (11), followed by Syria (13) and Somalia (13). Image: Transparency International Ireland

“The Bill would have implemented reforms proposed by the Mahon Tribunal in 2012 and required TDs and officer holders to disclose additional financial interests including large loans and liabilities. It would also have reformed the Standards in Public Office Commission,” Mr Devitt said.

In addition, Transparency International Ireland has recently called for the implementation of a long-term open government strategy and to reform the Electoral Act to remove restrictions on funding for human rights groups and campaigning charities as part of its forthcoming open government partnership national action plan.

The Government “can’t afford to delay long-overdue reforms any further”, said Mr Devitt.

‘Reform’

“There needs to be more ambition from Ireland to push reform forward if we would like to be among our counterparts in Europe, ” Catherine Lawlor, advocacy and research coordinator at Transparency International Ireland said.

Corruption at a global level was “the single biggest barrier to addressing the world’s most intractable problems, including climate breakdown”, he said.

Professor Robert Gillanders of the DCU Anti-Corruption Research Centre (ARC) said that “if people are seen to be acting with impunity, there is no surer way to undermine your democracy. We see that all around the world. Where you have higher perceptions of corruption, people trust the state less,” he said.

This led to people “not taking the covid vaccine, not paying their taxes… Impunity is poison to a countr”, Mr Gillanders said.

Countries at the top of the index must not let their institutions decay, corruption measurement expert Dr Roberto Kukutschka said.

“If you’re at the top of the index, stay on top of this and continue to strengthen your institutions and work on anti-corruption. Even if you believe it is not happening anymore. It is very important to avoid institutional decay and democratic backslide,” he said.