· GRECO report finds Ireland’s judiciary and prosecution service to be among the most trusted public institutions in the country

· Ministers welcome acknowledgement of reform programme already underway

Friday 21 November, 2014

The Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform welcome the GRECO (Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption) report on Ireland focusing on corruption prevention laws and systems for parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors, and which was approved for publication by the Government this week. ­ The Ministers are pleased to note that overall the report was positive about corruption prevention efforts in Ireland and will give due consideration to the recommendations to address certain issues raised.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald is pleased to note that the Report found Ireland's Judiciary and the Prosecution Service to be among the most trusted public institutions in the country. Minister Fitzgerald went on to state: "We, as a nation, value the principle of judicial independence and it is important that this principle is recognised by an international evaluation team such as GRECO and that the independence and professionalism of our judges is undisputed". The Minister notes the recommendations made in the report and intends to address them in consultation with the judiciary and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin. She continued: "Some of the recommendations are already being addressed such as the establishment of a statutory judicial council and the review of judicial appointments and I look forward to making progress in these key reforms in the months ahead."

The proposed establishment of a statutory Judicial Council will promote excellence and high standards of conduct by judges as well as providing a means of investigating allegations of judicial misconduct that may from time to time arise. Similarly the review of the operation of the judicial appointments system is to ensure that it reflects current best practice, that it is open, transparent and accountable and that it promotes diversity.

In relation to Parliamentarians, while noting the GRECO concerns that the perception of corruption levels in Ireland has increased albeit from a low base, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform welcomes the acknowledgement in the report of the very significant programmes of reform already under way including protected disclosures legislation, freedom of information, lobbying regulation and the forthcoming reform of ethics legislation. The Minister notes that GRECO has identified a number of areas where improvements could be made including the need to have a uniform and consolidated ethics framework, and an independent monitoring mechanism of disclosures of conflicts of interest. In this context he notes that the report has welcomed the ongoing work to overhaul and reform the current ethical framework and standards. The Minister expects to bring proposals to Government shortly in this regard.

The report contains one recommendation relevant to prosecutors about enhancing existing systems for the processing of complaints against prosecutors. The Director of Public Prosecutions is examining the recommendation and how best to improve upon the current system for handling

The report is available on the Department of Justice and Equality website at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB14000329 and on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website at www.per.gov.ie



Notes for Editors

Ireland has been a member of the Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) since it was established in 1999 to monitor states’ compliance with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards. Membership of GRECO requires participation in evaluation procedures and, to date, the reports on Ireland have been generally positive. The 4th round of GRECO evaluations is focused on corruption prevention laws and systems for parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. An evaluation team visited Ireland in March and the report was adopted by the GRECO plenary at its October meeting. Previous GRECO reports on Ireland and other states are available on the GRECO website http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/default_en.asp