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Government legislative programme sets bar pathetically low in tackling corruption

The government’s legislative programme for the new Dáil term totally lacks any sign of ambition when it comes to tackling corruption and white-collar crime, the Social Democrats said today.

The party’s co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:

“It is both pathetic and dispiriting that the government has set the bar so low in terms of tackling corruption risks in its legislative programme for the new Dáil term published today. A press release accompanying the announcement of the Autumn programme says there will a ‘crack down’ on white collar crime – but when you examine the work plan, this claim rings hollow.

“The government has in fact once more dusted down a five-year-old anti-corruption bill as one of the highlights of its Autumn programme. The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017 has been on the books since 2012 and it was already announced in July of this year.

“Today, we see this bill being touted again as some sort of silver bullet. This is far from being the case. While this legislation deals with some of the Mahon Tribunal’s recommendations dating back to 2012, the fact of the matter is that it falls short of the sort of comprehensive and committed response needed to tackle corruption and white-collar crime head on.

“The recent mishandling of the Séan Fitzpatrick trial by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, as well as the slow drip of Garda scandals, have seriously damaged public confidence in our ability to detect and prosecute corruption-related crimes. We won’t succeed in tackling the systemic corruption risks in our society by adding yet another law to the patchwork of laws already on the statute books.

“To do that requires resources to ensure proactive investigations, enforcement, detection and prosecutions. The Social Democrats have consistently called for the establishment of a robust and fully resourced Independent Anti-Corruption Agency to tackle white collar crime and corruption in the corporate world and political spheres. In the absence of a dedicated law enforcement agency, we will continue to see fine laws on our statute books which meet international standards but which lead to few actual consequences for corrupt behaviour.”