Loophole prevents former TDs and Senators being investigated for ethics breaches

Loophole prevents former TDs and Senators being investigated for ethics breaches

A loophole in the law means former TDs and Senators cannot be investigated for breaches of ethics law while they were in Leinster House.

The public standards watchdog SIPO has raised concerns after it received information about a former member of the Oireachtas and discovered it could not investigate.

The loophole does not apply to former Ministers, only TDs and Senators who never held higher office.

Legislation to rectify the gap in the law has stalled in the Oireachtas with Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall saying she is not expecting it to progress anytime soon.

"I think there is no great political will behind it to move it," said Deputy Shortall.

"It's got stuck at committee for well over a year, 18 months now.

"I suppose it's one of these things that people are concerned about from time to time when a tribunal reports or when some issue arises and it tends to be put on the back-burner then after that, once people forget about the issue."

A bill that has been delayed in the Oireachtas for three years would close the loophole and introduce stricter laws around gifts.

John Devitt, CEO of Transparency International Ireland, says politicians should have to declare more than just gifts valued at more than €600.

"€600 could get you a return ticket to New York, eight tickets to the All-Ireland football final," said Mr Devitt.

"If someone gave you five or six tickets to the All-Ireland final or a return ticket to New York, you might be influenced by that.

"We would suggest that might be reduced to even €100 per year."


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