Commitment 14: Strengthen Anti-Corruption Measures

Commitment 14: Strengthen Anti-Corruption Measures

 

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To minimise the opportunities for corruption, investigate potential corruption and respond to corrupt behaviours.

Objective: To strengthen the legislative framework to prevent, investigate and respond to corruption in the public and private sectors.

Status quo:

A) The Public Sector Standards Bill 2015 was published in December 2015, and completed Second Stage in the Dáil in January 2016. The Bill aims to significantly enhance the existing framework for identifying, disclosing and managing conflicts of interest and minimising corruption risks, to achieve a shift towards a more dynamic and risk-based system of compliance and to ensure that the institutional framework for oversight, investigation and enforcement is robust and effective. This Bill consolidates the current legislative framework governing the ethical obligations of public officials and gives effect to the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.

Among the key reforms of the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015 were:

the introduction of a Public Sector Standards Commissioner, with additional powers and resources, to replace the Standards in Public Office Commission and to oversee a reformed complaints and investigations process;

the establishment in legislation of a set of integrity principles for all public officials;

the strengthening of the legal obligation for public officials to disclose, as a matter of routine, actual and potential conflicts of interest, reinforced by a significant extension of the personal and material scope of disclosures for public officials and graduated disclosure requirements;

the establishment of a more effective (IT-based) process for the submission of periodic statements of interests;

the imposition of statutory prohibitions on the use of insider information, on the seeking by public officials of benefits to further their private interests, and on local elected representatives from dealing professionally with land in certain circumstances; and

the establishment of a statutory board to address potential conflicts of interest as public officials take up roles in the private sector.

 

B) The Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 2010 would benefit from consolidation and renewal, as has been recommended by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and other evaluation bodies.

They have recently been reviewed with a view to being replaced by a new Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill.

C) The mechanisms for appointing and overseeing the judiciary are somewhat dated and could be improved to prevent the opportunity for potential corruption.

 

Ambition:

A) Finalise and enact the Public Sector Standards Bill to put in place a framework which modernises, simplifies and streamlines the current legislative framework for ethics with a robust and effective institutional framework for oversight, investigation and enforcement.

B) A new Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill will be published and enacted to replace the outdated and overlapping Prevention of Corruption Acts which date back to 1889. The new Bill will replace existing offences and supplement them with new offences including those which will incriminate trading in influence, intimidation, misuse of confidential information by a public official, and facilitating corruption.

The Bill will clarify the liability of corporate bodies for offences. It will also extend the range of penalties available to a court when a person is convicted to include forfeiture of public office.

C) The prevention of corruption in the judicial sector will be enhanced by reforms in governance and accountability by establishing a judicial council. The Judicial Council legislation will provide for the establishment of a Judicial Conduct Committee, the function of which will be to promote and maintain high standards of judicial conduct.

In addition to investigating complaints into the conduct of individual judges, the Judicial Conduct Committee will also be given responsibility for preparing and submitting draft guidelines concerning judicial conduct and ethics to the Board of the Council, for adoption by the Council. It is also envisaged that the Judicial Conduct Committee would have a role in providing advice on judicial conduct and ethics, both in general terms and to individual judges.

Lead implementing organisations: (A) Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, (B, C) Department of Justice and Equality

 

Timeline: January 2017 to June 2018

 

Commitment 14:

Strengthen Anti-Corruption measures

OGP values

Civic participation, Public accountability

New or ongoing commitment

Ongoing and New

Lead implementation organisations

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Department of Justice

Other actors involved - government

 

Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil the commitment

New or ongoing

Start date

End date

A) Progress the Public Sector Standards Bill through the Oireachtas to enactment

Ongoing

 

June 2017

B) A new Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill will be published and enacted

Ongoing

 

December 2017

C) Judicial Council legislation will be published and enacted

New

January 2017

December 2017