Sunday 22 January 2017

'What's in it for me' must not become the catch cry for politics in Ireland

Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30

Former Fine Gael Councillor Hugh McElvaney
Former Fine Gael Councillor Hugh McElvaney

'What's in it for me?" demanded Councillor Hugh McElvaney, caught by a hidden camera looking for a bribe to help with a planning application. Let's consider that question in a broader context. What's in it for politicians to set up an independent anti-corruption body with strong powers and sufficient resources?

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A lot, is the answer. So much, in fact, it's a mystery why they haven't grasped the nettle yet. I can't believe there are more venal politicians than upright ones, yet the lowest common denominator is allowed to set the standard. This must not continue. It serves the best interests neither of citizens nor the body politic.

So, an anti-corruption agency empowered by legislation to do its job properly is essential to restore the public trust. Its establishment would show leadership, accountability and a moral compass, as well as distancing law-abiding officeholders from vice. Above all, it would give the Irish people no less than we deserve.

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