Wednesday 25 April 2018

Elaine Byrne: Time we digested full extent of nauseating white-collar crime

TDs and public need to realise that tax evasion and corruption are far from victimless crimes, writes Elaine Byrne

The sentencing this week of the former deputy mayor of Dungarvan, Fred Forsey, signals a radical hardening of judicial hearts towards white-collar crime. But does Irish society have the stomach for this new departure?

Last month a jury convicted the former Fine Gael councillor for accepting €80,000 in corrupt payments from a property developer in exchange for lobbying his council colleagues to rezone agricultural land for residential and industrial use in Waterford. Forsey received a six-year sentence with two years suspended last week.

He shares the distinction of a corruption conviction with John A Corr, the first person in the history of the State to hold that honour. The former chair of Dublin County Council was found guilty in 1944 of bribing councillors with £50 in return for Seanad votes and served a three-month prison sentence. A little known fact is that incident was directly responsible for the Seanad Electoral Act and the Seanad system, as we know it today, originates from that 1947 legislation.

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