By Tony O’Reilly-
Ireland scored a better position than the UK in an annual corruption index for the first time in 25 years, being the tenth least corrupt country in the world, according to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index.
The new index gave Ireland 77 points out of 100 – ranking it in 10th place out of 180 countries, deeming it less affected by corruption than the UK, Australia, and Canada for the first time since 1997.
Published annually by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International (TI), the index ranks 180 countries and territories by their “perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople”.
The latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) signified a significant improvement since last year, when it received 74 points out of 100.
John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland, told Newstalk Breakfast this is good for the country.
“This is the first year that we’ve noticed a significant jump, or improvement, in our performance year-on-year,” he said.
“It’s the first time we’ve finished above the UK in 25 years, and the first time ever that we’ve finished ahead of Canada and Australia.
“I think that’s in large part because of the absence of a major controversy that’s attracted international attention – unlike ’98/’99 when Ireland suffered a sharp drop in our score.
“We haven’t seen the kind of revelations of corruption that the tribunals exposed, and the Mahon Tribunal concluded that corruption was systemic in local government and politics.
“That notwithstanding we’ve had our fair share of controversies… involving failures to disclose financial interests by ministers, failures to to disclose political campaign donations and expenses.
“They’re not a the same level that they were back in the late 1990s, and certainly not attracting the same kind of attention that events in Westminster and Whitehall have received recently”.
Mr Devitt said while every country has these problems, Ireland needs a renewed commitment to anti-corruption reforms.
“It’s something that every country encounters; no country on the index – even those in the very top, including Denmark – are free of corruption,” he said.
“We need to take a risk-based approach to tackling the problem by reforming the way in which our public officials disclose information, share it with the Standards In Public Office Commission.
“Currently that system is outdated; our ethics laws haven’t been reformed in over
“It relies on 13 independent data sources and uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean,” Transparency International said.
In its latest index, Ireland landed in joint tenth position with Luxembourg, with the two countries receiving a score of 77.
This is a rise for Ireland, which ranked 13th last year with 74.
Topping the latest index, meanwhile, was Denmark with a score of 90, while in joint second place with 87 were Finland and New Zealand.
Also, the UK ranked 18th with a score of 73 as Somalia found itself at the bottom of the list with a score of 12.
Appearing on Newstalk Breakfast to discuss the latest index was TI Ireland’s Chief Executive John Devitt.
“Our performance on the index has improved since 2012 gradually but this is the first year that we’ve noticed a significant jump or improvement in our performance year on year.
“It’s the first time we’ve finished above the UK in 25 years and the first time ever that we’ve finished ahead of Canada and Australia.
“I think that’s in large part because of the absence of a major controversy that’s attracted international attention, unlike 98/99 when Ireland suffered a sharp drop in our score.
“We haven’t seen the kind of coverage of, or revelations of, corruption rather that the tribunals exposed.
“The Mahon Tribunal concluded that corruption was systemic in local government and politics back in the ’80s and ’90s.”
Devitt pointed out that while Ireland has had its “fair share” of controversies recently, “they’re not at the same level that they were back in the late 1990s and are certainly not attracting the same kind of attention that events in Westminster and Whitehall have received recently”.
Despite the good news, the chief executive warned that corruption is “something that every country encounters”.
“No country on the index, even those at the very top including Denmark, are free of corruption,” he explained.
“We need to take a risk-based approach to tackling the problem by reforming the way in which, in Ireland in particular, reforming the way in which our public officials disclose information and share it with the Standards in Public Office Commission.
“Currently that system is outdated. Our ethics laws haven’t been reformed in over 20 years.”
Mr Devitt said Ireland also has to do more to tackle corruption from overseas.
“Our financial services sector is very vulnerable to the laundering of the proceeds of corruption here,” he said.
“Billions of euros are likely to be moving through our banks and financial services sector.
“We need to do far more to open up our companies to public scrutiny; the Register of Beneficial Ownership was closed to journalists and civil society organisations recently.
“Opening that up would make it much harder for people to hide the world’s dirty money here,” he added.
How the ranking works
The CPI ranks 180 countries based on perceived levels of corruption and Ireland’s score is drawn from the findings of eight separate surveys and studies.
The higher a country’s score, the less it is perceived to be affected by public-sector corruption.
Ireland’s score has improved slowly since 2012, when it suffered the sharpest fall on the CPI in its history: receiving 69 points and leaving it in 25th place out of 176 countries.
However, it continues to lag behind some of its Northern European counterparts on the index – with the Scandinavian countries and Finland all scoring over 80 points.
Denmark is perceived to be the least corrupt country this year with a score of 90 out of 100.
Somalia (12), Syria (13) and South Sudan (13) remain at the bottom of the CPI.