| 5.2°C Dublin

Restoring the public's trust

The six-year sentence handed down to former Dungarvan town councillor Fred Forsey Jnr yesterday is a welcome sign that we are finally getting serious about tackling political corruption.

For far too long, even when incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing has emerged, corrupt politicians have been treated with kid gloves.

This tolerance of corruption has brought the entire political system into disrepute with many voters concluding, wrongly, that all politicians are on the take. The cynicism this has bred has been corrosive.

While most politicians are not in it for themselves – quite the contrary, in fact, with most elected representatives leaving public life poorer than they entered it – even one corrupt politician is one too many.

Those who are elected to public office are the recipients of the electorate’s trust. It is vital that this trust is not abused and, when it is, those who are guilty of such abuse are punished in an exemplary manner.

That is why the sentence meted out to the former councillor Forsey is so important.

While it might seem severe at first glance, the six-year sentence adequately reflects the abuse of the public trust perpetrated by Mr Forsey, who received corrupt payments totalling €80,000 in connection with a property development.

Hopefully this sentence will have a suitable deterrent effect on other public representatives who might be tempted to abuse voters’ trust and will help restore public confidence in our political institutions.