Gardaí have launched a confidential line for the reporting of bribery and corruption, after a senior officer admitted that these are difficult cases to investigate and prove in court.
The new number, 1800 40 60 80, can be contacted 24 hours a day and the messages can be left confidentially or anonymously, before being sent to a central email address, where they will be heard between 9am and 11pm.
Messages will be evaluated by staff attached to the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit, which was set up within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) last year.
Detective Superintendent Gerard Walsh, of the GNECB, said there is a suggestion that corruption in Ireland is endemic and, yet, gardaí are not coming across evidence to support that view.
“They are difficult cases to investigate and difficult cases to prove,” Det Supt Walsh said, referring to the small number of prosecutions in this area.
Det Supt Walsh said the hope is that evidence given through the new phone line would fall under the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offence) Act, 2018, which includes new offences relating to corruption occurring both within and outside the state, and which applies to individuals as well as business entities.
“We are going to endeavour to investigate credible allegations of bribery and corruption,” he said.
At the time of the new act being signed into law, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan referred to significant provisions contained in it, including the introduction of criminal liability for corporate bodies and senior management. It also includes new offences, such as an Irish official doing a corrupt act in relation to his or her office, as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal.
Det Supt Walsh said that the unit is prepared for a certain number of false or vexatious allegations and that some information may need to be investigated by other sections within the force. He said some people who might otherwise report corruption or bribery to gardaí might hold back from doing so, out of fear they may be compromising themselves — something it is hoped can be navigated by using the phone line.
He also said that information lodged with the phone line may play a role in fighting organised criminal gangs.
“A lot of criminality is interrelated,” he said, adding that “everyone wants to cover their ill-gotten gains” and that some instances of bribery can be a step away from other criminal elements.
However, he said many of the cases that come before the courts are in relation to smaller-scale cases, involving areas such as the national car test, and that any credible information lodged with the new phone line will be reviewed as a possible subject for investigation.
The number, 1800 40 60 80, can be contacted 24 hours a day.