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Statement on the McCracken Tribunal report


I would like to congratulate Mr. Justice McCracken and his Tribunal on their excellent work and report on the Dunne's payments to politicians.

Our duty is to guard our country and our democratic system from any taint or suspicion of corruption, and to remove any obvious or possible source of danger. While in the terms of the Tribunal's Report 'no political impropriety' has been shown to have occurred, the acceptance of large gifts or payments or personal benefits in a surreptitious manner or the large scale evasion of tax and exchange control regulations by even one or two senior serving politicians or members of Government is deeply damaging to trust in politics, and a serious breach of it, and every effort must be made that is humanly possible to ensure that it cannot happen again.

Honesty and truthfulness and integrity are fundamental requirements of those who serve in public life and who hold positions of great trust. All of us are deeply dismayed at the way in which in certain instances investigated by the Tribunal there has been a falling so far short of these ideals in an indefensible and disgraceful manner.

The Government welcome and will study further the recommendations of the Report, with a view to their full and speedy implementation. It may indeed be necessary in certain instances to go beyond them.

Our concern is to establish firm and workable rules for the governance of our democracy that will be fully observed in letter and in spirit. Many of the necessary mechanisms are already in place under the Ethics in Public Office Act, and the Electoral Act. But it is clear that these will now need to be reviewed, and further improved. This we will do urgently.

Without prejudice to the need for any immediate further investigations relating to matters raised by the Tribunal Report - and this week the Government at its meeting on Thursday will be considering the necessity of a second Tribunal - we will be looking to establish expeditiously by legislation a permanent body, such as a Public Ethics commission, that will be capable of investigating with the assistance of all the resources of the State any accusations of public impropriety that appear to have any substance prima facie. I am determined to protect the integrity of our political decision-making and to see that any attaint to that integrity is exposed. I intend to consult and work with other party leaders to ensure that the mechanisms we establish have maximum efficacy. The Attorney General has already begun to work on the necessary legislation, which we would hope to have in force by the end of October. The Commission would in principle have the power to carry out any further investigation required into any serious matter brought to its attention.

It is the view of the Government that the investigation of the Ansbacher accounts should be further pursued by the Tribunal. The Government also expects the relevant agencies of the State to take all necessary action on foot of this Report.

There are many other aspects and implications of the Report that will require more detailed consideration and debate, both by the Government and the Dáil. But in all decisions that we take the good name of Ireland and the protection of our democracy will be paramount.

Our State is much more prosperous today than when it was established. But in terms of integrity we should adhere to the simple and straightforward ideals of our founders. We owe it to the least fortunate of our citizens to ensure that public decisions affecting everyone's welfare are taken only on grounds of equity and the pubic good, and to ensure that possession of wealth can never purchase privately political favours.

25 August 1997