Kenny pledges to tackle political corruption

Enda Kenny pledged to break “suspicious” links between business and politics, and promised that politicians guilty of corruption would be banned from running for the Dáil for 10 years.

The Taoiseach’s comments came as some speakers at the MacGill Summer School claimed he had failed to accept the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal and the mobile phone licence probe.

Two former leaders of the Progressive Democrats also challenged Mr Kenny’s plans to abolish the Seanad.

Mr Kenny said corruption was not a victimless crime and that it ruined lives, as well as the standing of a country and its reputation.

“There will be no more doubt, no more suspicion between business and politics,” said Mr Kenny.

There would be more transparency and political donations would be limited under new rules, he said.

New legislation under Alan Shatter, the justice minister, would address corrupt politicians.

“If convicted of corruption offences, Oireachtas members could be subject of a court order to forfeit their office and be excluded from seeking office again for up to 10 years,” he told the Donegal summer school.

Earlier, though, a Fianna Fáil senator and a member of An Taisce claimed Mr Kenny had not fully accepted the findings in the Moriarty probe, which criticised connections between Fine Gael and businessmen.

Members of the audience also quizzed Mr Kenny about his contact with Denis O’Brien, the businessman criticised in the report.

Mr Kenny yesterday said he had accepted the inquiry’s findings and that he had also sent the report to gardaí on the day of its publication last year.

Earlier, Frank Flannery, a former senior Fine Gael strategist, said political corruption should be investigated by a European-style system of magistrates, with hearings held in private.

A natural breeding ground for corruption was an organisation of great power and secrecy, he said.

Meanwhile, two former leaders of the Progressive Democrats questioned Government plans to abolish the Seanad. Des O’Malley and Michael McDowell commented after six senators yesterday called for reform of the upper house rather than abolition.

Mr O’Malley said 100 changes or more would need to be made in the Constitution to abolish the Seanad.

Elsewhere, Joan Burton, the social protection minister, said work on reforming child benefit allocations and taxing recipients would take years. She knocked back any suggestions of means testing 600,000 families in receipt of child benefit. She said there would be no moves on this in this year’s budget.

“It would be better to look at taxing it, but something like this will take some time because our IT system on tax and social welfare don’t join up together, and work on that is going to take a number of years.”

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