Ireland’s ethics legislation overly bureaucratic and no real system in place to properly review what is declared

Ireland’s ethics legislation is too bureaucratic with challenges in identifying and dealing with potential conflicts of interest for politicians and senior public servants.

A Department of Public Expenditure presentation said there was a lack of clarity and uncertainty on what ethical rules applied to civil servants and elected representatives.

It also admitted that the level of knowledge and understanding of ethics obligations among public officials was “questionable”.

The presentation said there were separate regimes in place for politicians at national and local levels with different requirements on what had to be disclosed, donations received, and the sanctions in place for breaches.

It said there were “bureaucracy and effectiveness issues” with much of the system paper-based and no real system in place for properly reviewing what was declared.

The presentation said: “Responsibilities for advice, development of guidelines and codes of conduct is diffuse [spread widely].”

It said that obvious anomalies in the applying rules had also “impact[ed] adversely on the credibility of the ethics regime”.