Minister for Justice and Equality welcomes publication of latest anti-corruption report
5th July 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality today welcomed the publication of the GRECO (Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption) report on Ireland. This report is focussed on corruption-prevention systems and laws for parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors and it assesses progress on implementing recommendations made by GRECO in a 2014 report.
GRECO notes again that the Public Sector Standards Bill, once enacted, will give effect to most of the recommendations relating to parliamentarians. These involve declarations of assets and liability and the ethics framework relating to them and GRECO is satisfied with the draft law which means the recommendations will be implemented when the Bill is enacted.
Minster Flanagan welcomes the comments of GRECO in relation to the Judicial Council Bill 2017. It noted that the Bill has received broad support for the principles enshrined in it, which include the proposed establishment of a judicial council and an acknowledgement of the role which it could play in underpinning the independence of the judiciary. Minister Flanagan went on to say “I look forward to the enactment of the Judicial Council Bill, which is currently before the Houses. This important piece of legislation will not only support judicial independence, training and ethics, but will ensure compliance with the GRECO recommendations”.
In relation to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, GRECO, while welcoming efforts at reform of the judicial appointments process in Ireland, have questioned whether the proposed composition of the new Commission is in line with European standards in this area. Minister Flanagan stressed that “there will be a very strong judicial presence on this body, along with a lay majority of suitably qualified and carefully selected individuals. The Public Appointments Service will select individuals with the skills and expertise needed to carry out this very important function. I am confident that the appointment to the Commission of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, along with the Presidents of the four other courts will represent a substantial judicial representation on this body.”
GRECO has found that Ireland’s overall implementation of the recommendations made during the fourth round evaluation is low and that Ireland’s compliance with the recommendations is “globally unsatisfactory” as per GRECO standards. Minister Flanagan expressed his disappointment that more progress has not been made this year but was keen to highlight the active role the Government has taken on anti-corruption measures in the past year. He said:
“My department has been very active on anti-corruption measures this year, and indeed so have my colleagues in other Government Departments. The recently enacted Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 represents a complete overhaul of Ireland’s anti-corruption laws that were somewhat out of date and inaccessible. It is a vital piece of legislation in the fight against corruption at home and abroad.”
He continued “The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau has recently established a dedicated anti-corruption unit in An Garda Síochána to ensure more resources are allocated to the successful investigation and prosecution of corruption. My department also recently launched a revamped website www.anticorruption.ie which provides links to reports on Ireland and contact details in the event that an individual suspects a corruption offence has taken place. These are all measures that are ongoing, along with other reviews and reforms that have been outlined in the white collar crime package announced by Government last year.”
Notes for Editors
Ireland has been a member of the Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) since it was established in 1999 to monitor states’ compliance with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards. Membership of GRECO requires participation in evaluation procedures and, to date, the reports on Ireland have been generally positive. The 4th round of GRECO evaluations is focused on corruption prevention laws and systems for parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. An evaluation team visited Ireland in March and the attached report was adopted by the GRECO plenary at its October meeting. Previous GRECO reports on Ireland and other states are available on the GRECO website http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/default_en.asp