Corrupt politicians must be barred from seeking re-election

26 July 2016

Labour Senator Gerald Nash has said he was puzzled by this morning’s news that the Government is abandoning plans to ban TDs convicted of corruption from running again for election to the Dáil.

“It seems that, yet again, advice from the Attorney General’s office is being held responsible for a legislative change of heart”, he said. “But that advice will not be shared with the legislators.”

“I fully defend the confidentiality of the Government’s legal advice when it comes to litigation in the courts. But it is unreasonable to expect the Oireachtas to act on unpublished advice when it comes to law-making.

“The fact is that a corruption conviction is accepted as a bar to public office in many Anglo-American jurisdictions. We need some convincing explanation as to why our Constitution means our laws must be different.

“Apparently it is being argued that, since the law won’t prevent someone convicted of murder or rape from running for election, ‘it would be difficult to treat someone found guilty of corruption differently’.

“With respect, this diffidently expressed opinion doesn’t withstand scrutiny. There is a clear connection between corruption and public office that doesn’t exist in relation to other offences, and which fully justifies these crimes being treated differently.

“On this logic, will the Government now say that it is unconstitutional to ban people guilty of Company Act offences from serving as company directors? Or that publicans who breach the Licencing Acts can no longer have their licences extinguished?

“We need a more convincing explanation than this if the Tánaiste is to justify her volte face. If we don’t get one, we will certainly table appropriate amendments to her Bill, to allow the Dáil and Seanad make up their own mind on this important issue.”

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