Public trust has been eroded, Tanaiste Burton admits
Tanaiste Joan Burton admits there has been a "major erosion of trust" in state institutions due to corruption, scandal and the failure of regulatory systems.
She said that the Irish public had become "wearyingly familiar" with hypocrisy – citing as an example how "former Taoiseach Charles Haughey urged the people of this country to tighten their belts, while himself doing anything but".
Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Donegal, she said that "cynicism now surrounds politics and public life – the notion that motives are always questionable, and that nothing is done simply in the public interest".
She said cynicism was also boosted by corruption in planning.
However, she said it was not just politics that had fallen in public trust, but there had been "a major erosion of trust in the institutions that dominated the first 90 years of this State", including scandals in the Catholic Church and in the banking sector.
"The reckless greed of our financial institutions – and the failure of our regulatory system to control them – brought this country to the brink of bankruptcy," she said.
The Tanaiste, pictured, also confirmed that a series of referendums after recommendations made by the constitutional convention would be held next year, including ballots on marriage equality, reducing the voting age, and reducing the age of candidacy of the president.
She added that "further referendums" may follow, and proposed that the convention could be made "a regular feature of public life, so that every five years, or every decade, the Constitution would be reviewed in a methodological way and the public would have their say in that process".
Ms Burton was addressing the opening panel of the week-long summer school, titled How Do We Restore Trust and Credibility To Our Institutions?
Other speakers included Professor John FitzGerald of the ESRI, management consultant Dr Eddie Molloy and public affairs consultant Gerard Howlin.