The Standards In Public Office Commission has been described as “toothless”, after it decided not to investigate a TD for incorrect planning application.
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy criticised the decision not to probe former junior minister Damien English over the incorrect planning application that led to his resignation.
“They haven’t done their job, they’re not investigating,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“[Deputy English] lied on a planning application by not listing that he had already owned a home to get permission to build a new home.
“He didn’t declare it for 10 years... politicians are required to declare this, so voters can know what interests they have.”
Deputy Murphy said Sipo’s decision “underscores the toothless nature” of the watchdog.
'Sipo is independent'
Senator Barry Ward argued that the “only difficulty here is that Deputy Murphy doesn’t like the answer”.
“[Sipo] decided it didn’t need to investigate, and the reason we have organisations like Sipo is because they are independent,” he said.
"They are not going to be using this to score political points like Paul is.
“There should be no concern or no confusion – the decision that Sipo made had nothing to do with his powers.”
Deputy Murphy said it’s true that he doesn’t like the answer of Sipo – but he also disagrees with the process on which Sipo operates.
“Sipo makes this decision, and it is final – there's no appeal process unless you seek a judicial review,” he said.
Corruption in Ireland
“We need to have to have investigations and published reports so the public can make up their own mind," Deputy Murphy said.
“The public has a right to then make a judgement at the next election whether they want to elect someone again in the knowledge that Sipo has made this or that finding.”
Mr Ward said Deputy Murphy is simply pushing a “narrative of great endemic corruption” in Ireland.
“If you look at any metric that measures corruption of transparency made by international agencies, we are in the top 10 of most of those,” he said.
Mr Ward said the Government already plans to expand the powers of Sipo, including a bill due to be published this year.
“We have a polity in Ireland that is not corrupt but transparent.”
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