Ethics Review an endorsement of Labour’s 2015 Public Sector Standards Bill

07 February 2023
  • Government must urgently progress legislation now.

Labour’s Reform spokesperson Deputy Ged Nash has said the government’s review of Ireland’s statutory framework for ethics in public office represents “an endorsement of Brendan Howlin’s Public Sector Standards Bill” seven years after it was first debated in the Dáil, and he called for urgent progress on a new government bill.

Deputy Nash said:

“The long-awaited government review is in essence a lengthy endorsement of the reforms proposed by Labour in 2015 and debated in the Dáil in 2016 before the Bill was ditched by the 2016-2020 Fine Gael administration. The review takes into account changes since but there is no longer any reason for this FG-FF government to drag its feet any longer on reform.

“The Public Sector Standards Bill would have seen the current ineffectual SIPO model scrapped to be replaced by a well-resourced Public Sector Standards Commissioner with sweeping powers for a Deputy Commissioner and staff to initiate inquiries into standards breaches by elected and public officials, and this kind of approach is supported by this review.

“Labour supports the recommendation that fixed notice penalty fines ought to be issued to elected representatives and public officials where the facts are found in respect of ethics and disclosure breaches.

“It is also important that any new ethics regime requires public representatives – both national and local – and certain senior officials – to declare conflicts of interest, both real and potential, and significant liabilities they may hold.

“I would urge the government to quickly progress legislation by updating Brendan Howlin’s 2015 Bill with amendments and changes that take into account developments since.”

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