IRELAND is still perceived as being one of the least corrupt countries in the world, according to a new report.
Transparency International's "Corruption Perceptions Index" for 2010, issued yesterday, ranked Ireland as the 14th least corrupt, ahead of the US, the UK and Germany.
Ireland scored eight out of 10 on the corruption scale. Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore led the index with 9.3, while Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma) and Somalia were perceived to be the four most corrupt states, scoring between 1.1 and 1.5.
Despite Ireland's performance -- it improved by two places -- the chief executive of Transparency International Ireland, John Devitt, warned that international perceptions of the country were not as high as they had been
"Ireland has done well as a country for the last number of years but with more and more scandals coming out into the open, there is a growing perception that 'crony capitalism' and a dubious relationship between business and politics has not gone away," he said.
This could discourage investment.
"By and large most companies will conduct their own due diligence, but any perception of higher corruption may make some companies think twice, particularly 'ethical investors' who may view putting money into Ireland as more trouble than it is worth," he added.
Mr Devitt pointed to our laws relating to whistle blowers, which appear to deprive them of the the type of protection afforded in other jurisdictions. He referred to the case of Noel Wardick, a senior member of the Red Cross, who is currently suspended after he aired concerns about its financial management and governance.
The survey covered 178 countries. States hit hard in the financial crisis saw their status slip, with Italy and Greece rated 67th and 78th respectively.