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Ireland

Ethics Reform (IE0011)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Ireland, First Action Plan, 2014-16

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Support Institution(s): All government departments

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Conflicts of Interest, Legislation & Regulation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Ireland End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Ireland 2014-2015 IRM Progress Report (Final)

Starred: Yes Starred

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The government will bring forward legislation to modernise, consolidate and simplify the statutory framework for ethics in public office. It will implement the recommendations of the Final Report of the Mahon Tribunal agreed by Government and will draw on international best practice, including recommendations from international accountability bodies such as the OECD, GRECO and the UN.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

(✪) 3.1: Ethics Reform

Commitment Text:

Action 3.1 -  Ethics Reform

The government will bring forward legislation to modernise, consolidate and simplify the statutory framework for ethics in public office. It will implement the recommendations of the Final Report of the Mahon Tribunal agreed by Government and will draw on international best practice, including recommendations from international accountability bodies such as the OECD, GRECO and the UN.

Responsible institution: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER)

Supporting institution(s): All government departments

Start date: Not specified                                                                       End date: July 2016

 

 

Editorial note: Commitment 3.1 is clearly relevant to OGP values as written, has transformative potential impact, and is substantially or completely implemented and therefore qualifies as a starred commitment. 

Commitment Aim

Dealing with conflicts of interest among public officials in Ireland is particularly salient, given the corruption that led to financial and economic crisis in the years before the action plan was in drafted.[Note 42: See R. Chari and P. Bernhagen, Financial and Economic Crisis: Explaining the Sunset Over the Celtic Tiger, Irish Political Studies, December 2011.] The problem was manifest in actual and potential conflicts of interest that plagued Ireland throughout the 1990s and 2000s, as highlighted by the Mahon Tribunal that investigated payments to politicians on political decisions, calling for a more comprehensive ethical legal framework.[Note 43:  See bit.ly/1PwMHDJ (last accessed September 9, 2015)] In this context, the aim of Action 3.1 was to develope specific reform proposals for a new ethics regime to effectively address actual and potential corruption risks, thereby increasing public trust.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

Before OGP participation, there was piecemeal legislation in Ireland on the regulation of conflicts of interest and political donations, as discussed more fully in the midterm report. With Action 3.1, the government sought to adopt one consolidated piece of legislation that brought together the previously separate strands of legislation, while also building on the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal. At the midterm, substantial progress included the resultant General Scheme of the Public Sector Standards Bill that outlined the key areas to be covered by the legislation, developed throughout the first year of action plan and then later released by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in June 2015, building on international best practice.[Note 44:  See bit.ly/1ljUY0b, link ‘Draft General Scheme’ (last accessed September 9, 2015)] The reform particularly sought to do the following: expand the scope of public disclosures that officials have to make, outline principles of integrity and codes of conduct for public officials, and enforce independent regulation of disclosures. After this was finalized in June 2015, the process for public consultation was also opened thereafter, where an additional policy document was produced to explain the main elements of the initiative.[Note 45: For both documents, see bit.ly/1ljUY0b (link ‘Draft General Scheme’ and ‘Policy Document’)]

End of term: Substantial

In the second year of the action plan, with the goal to encourage public debate and consultation on the theme, the state received public comments by 11 September 2015. As highlighted by the government in its self-assessment report, these comments were later posted on the web. Subsequently, the Public Sector Standards Bill was published on 23 December 2015, completing its second stage reading by 20 January 2016. Given the delays in forming government after the latest General Elections in early 2016, it is expected that the Bill will enter Committee stage in parliament in late 2016, with a view to finalize adoption of the law in 2017.

Did it open government?

Public accountability: Did not change

Although there has been progress towards the creation of the law, it had not been approved at the time of writing and therefore no change was observed.

Carried forward?

The legislative approval of the Public Sector Standards Bill should be ensured. The government should be commended for having as one of its three objectives in Commitment 14 of the National Action Plan 2016-18 the commitment to move the Bill through parliament to enactment in 2017. 


Commitments

Open Government Partnership