Long delayed ethics reform must be prioritised now
- Confidence in politics at risk over continued delays in new ethics laws
Responding to the resignation of another Junior Minister who did not declare ownership of a residential property and submitted a misleading planning application, Labour Public Expenditure and Reform spokesperson Ged Nash TD called on the government to rapidly bring forward the long delayed reform of ethics legislation.
Deputy Nash said:
“When the new Taoiseach took office in December, the Labour Party put the government on notice on the need to act on ethics reform after a catalogue of issues in how Standards in Public Office rules are adhered to.
“Under this government we have seen a laissez-faire approach to ethics rules, and for seven years Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have failed to progress the Public Sector Standards Bill first put forward by Brendan Howlin in 2015.
“The multiple failures to declare registrable interests, the revolving door between politics and business lobbyists, and the multitude of concerns highlighted by SIPO over many years over the inadequacy of Ireland’s ethics laws clearly demonstrates the urgent need for reform of ethics legislation. Confidence in politics and trust in our democracy is at stake.
“When Paschal Donohue was last Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform he did not progress reform, but he has no choice now after multiple breaches of the law and associated rules in recent years. Two Ministers of State in this government have now resigned related to failures to declare interests.
“There was a public consultation on Ethics reform last January, and ten submissions were made, but still no report has been published. The outgoing Minister issued a press release just before Christmas to announce approval of the report but didn’t publish it. Parliamentary question replies to me in November claims the government will publish legislation early this year. We still do not have sight of this. No draft law has been published yet despite SIPO repeatedly asking for more powers and multiple scandals in recent years.”