Ireland's rating of 19th out of 183 states in the latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International is disappointing and should prompt a renewed effort to improve the country's standing.
The State is perceived to be more corrupt than developed European countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK. On the positive side, with a score of 74 out of 100, this country did better than the western European average. Considering that western Europe is the best performing region, the Irish score is a respectable one.
However, 19th place means that there are no grounds for complacency. Ireland should strive to close the gap. On a practical level this country cannot afford to fall too far behind other small western economies with whom we compete for foreign direct investment. The Government should heed Transparency International Ireland's injunction to commit more resources, strengthen legislation and ensure adequate enforcement of the framework of laws already on the statute book that help prevent corruption.
At a global level the index highlights just how pervasive corruption is, with a majority of countries making little or no progress in tackling the problem over the past year. A worrying aspect of the report is the evidence that the lives of journalists and anti-corruption activists are increasingly at risk. Every week at least one journalist is killed in one of the countries classified as highly corrupt.
More than two thirds of countries scored below 50 out of 100, with an average across the world of just 43. New Zealand and Denmark ranked highest with scores of 89 and 88. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia rank lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9 respectively.
The best performing region is western Europe, with an average score of 66, while the worst performers are sub-Saharan Africa with an average score of 32 and eastern Europe and central Asia, with a slightly better average of 34. An important finding is that countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organisationstend to have the worst rates of corruption.