Ireland is now less corrupt, honest . . .
DESPITE all the whispers about brown envelopes, this great little nation has been judged just ever so slightly less corrupt than it was this time last year, an international think-tank has agreed.
Tribunals and health scandals apart, Ireland's reputation for honesty has actually improved, partly because that of our nearest neighbour has got dramatically worse.
Ireland has crept one place up the credibility ratings, from 17th place to 16th, according to the Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures levels of public-sector corruption across 180 nations.
Over the same period, Britain has tumbled down from 12th place to occupy the same position we have now attained.
John Devitt, chief executive of TI Ireland, said the British government's decision to block an investigation into alleged billion dollar bribes to Saudi officials had badly damaged the UK's reputation for fair play.
Ireland suffered a similar fall from grace six years ago as evidence emerged of secret payments to Charlie Haughey and other politicians.
Our European neighbours Sweden and Denmark share joint first place with New Zealand.