Sipo vacancies - Maintaining standards

A crucial element of leadership is good example. Both parties in the current Coalition promised not only higher standards, but also transparency and openness.

Last week the Standards in Public Office Commission was blocked from introducing reforms to make smaller units of the political parties accountable under new accountancy guidelines. Environment Minister Phil Hogan accused Sipo of going outside its legal remit. The commission was convinced it was acting properly.

With the haunting spectre of TACA — which operated within Fianna Fáil with such disastrous consequences for the whole nation — there can be no grounds for suspicion that any element of any political party does not have to maintain proper standards.

Two positions within Sipo became vacant last week, with the result that the commission cannot investigate any allegations. It must have its full complement of six members to function.

A spokesman for Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin stated the minister would move to fill the vacancies by the end of next month.

This is simply not good enough. Openness and transparency in relation to political standards must be perpetual. They cannot have a month’s holiday.

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