The Government’s failure to bring in overdue reform of ethics legislation is undermining public confidence in politics, according to Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall.

“In the 2020 Programme for Government, there was a commitment given to reform and consolidate the ethics in public office legislation.

“However, 14 months after the Government published a review of the existing legislation, we have yet to see the urgently needed proposals for reform.

“When I challenged the Minister for Public Reform on this unacceptable delay in the Dáil today, he told me that the heads of the bill are being finalised and would be ready in a short number of months.

“This is a very disappointing response from the minister. If you look at the legislative programme, the heads of the bill are not listed for priority drafting. Even when they are produced, the bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny and the various stages required before legislation is passed.

“Given that there is less than a year, at most, before the next general election, there is not a hope in hell that our ethics legislation will be reformed during the lifetime of this Government.

“For 20 years, SIPO have been identifying the huge gaps in their powers. In their annual report every year, they highlight all of the areas where they simply do not have the powers they so desperately need to do their job.

“Many different areas in need of reform have been identified, not least the lobbying area and the seamless movement from politics to the lobbying industry we’ve seen involving a number of Government ministers and former TDs.

“We need to show the public that we are serious about ethics. The Government’s failure to bring in this legislation with the urgency it deserves is undermining confidence in politics.”

May 2, 2024

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