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Political Corruption in Ireland, 1922-2010

Political Corruption in Ireland, 1922-2010

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Political Corruption in Ireland, 1922-2010
    Book Description:

    This book empirically maps the decline in standards since the inauguration of Irish independence in 1922, to the loss of Irish economic sovereignty in 2010. It argues that the definition of corruption is an evolving one. As the nature of the state changes, so too does the type of corruption. New evidence is presented on the early institutional development of the state. Irish public life was motivated by an ethos which rejected patronage. Original research provides fresh insights into how the policies of economic protectionalism and discretionary decision making led to eight Tribunal inquires. The emergence of state capture within political decision making is examined by analysing political favouritism towards the beef industry. The degree to which unorthodox links between political donations impacted on policy choices which exacerbated the depth of Ireland’s economic collapse is considered. This book will appeal to students and scholars of Irish politics, corruption theory, governance, public policy and political financing.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-808-4
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables (pp. viii-ix)
  4. Preface and acknowledgements (pp. x-xi)
  5. Foreword (pp. xii-xiv)
    Stuart C. Gilman

    From the classical writings of Plato, corruption has been seen as the most dangerous cancer of republican government. Ironically, in much of the last century it was rarely addressed in the academic literature. In fact, often when corruption was focused upon it was seen as a necessary ‘lubricant’ for development in poor nations. This attitude changed in the late twentieth century as a result of multiple corruption scandals, most notably the Watergate scandal in the United States. But for some inexplicable reason most of the subsequent research focused on developing countries and what was most often characterised as endemic corruption....

  6. 1 Introduction (pp. 1-18)

    Ireland’s national emblem, the harp, has since medieval times, resonated as an official symbol for Irish nationhood. Today, this immediately recognisable icon is found in the seals of the President, Taoiseach, naval flags, on courthouses and Irish embassies. It appears on the back of Irish coins, on postage stamps and pints of Guinness. This distinctive Irish musical instrument has an additional significance within political folklore. It has become symbolic of the adage that in order to get anything done in Ireland, it is necessary to pull strings. The implication, therefore, is that concepts of meritocracy and legitimate entitlement are superseded...

  7. 2 Why so little corruption? 1900s–1920s (pp. 19-35)

    In the nineteenth century, limited Irish independence was thwarted on several occasions by corruption through the patronage of Irish political representatives. The barefaced purchase of Irish legislative independence through the direct bribery of Irish MPs at the Irish House of Commons before the passage of the Act of Union, 1801 embodied what the English journalist and radical reformer, William Cobbett described as ‘old corruption’.¹ This also proved to be the case with the politically motivated patronage of members of Daniel O’Connell’s Repeal party of the 1840s and members of the Independent Irish Party in the 1850s.²

    A myth developed in...

  8. 3 Setting standards: 1930s–1940s (pp. 36-68)

    In 1932, the newly formed Fianna Fáil party entered government for the first time. Éamon de Valera’s party came to dominate Irish politics, emerging as the largest party at every general election until 2011. Fianna Fáil’s protectionist platform centred on a policy of economic self-sufficiency and was a significant shift from W.T. Cosgrave’s Cumann na nGaedheal policy of economic liberalism. Translated as ‘soldiers of destiny’ in English, Fianna Fáil promised to protect Irish industry through the imposition of tariffs.

    The scandals of the 1930s and 1940s were as a direct consequence of protectionalism because it enabled discretionary decision-making. The establishment...

  9. 4 At a crossroads? 1950s–1970s (pp. 69-102)

    Ireland’s quiet demographic revolution had profound implications for the direction of Irish politics. Demographic shifts to urban areas and population increases in the 1960s and 1970s led to demands for increased housing. Consequently, the shortage of serviced land necessitated the rezoning of large tracts of agricultural land.¹ This was exacerbated because the growth and expansion of Dublin took place in a predominantly rural area.

    The 1961 census also recorded Ireland’s lowest population figures since records began, with just under three million. Yet the census also revealed that Ireland’s urban population had increased by almost 20 percent since the foundation of...

  10. 5 Golden circles: 1980s–1990s (pp. 103-142)

    The Fianna Fáil / Progressive Democrat 1989–92 Coalition was a doubleedged sword for Irish public life. For the first time since independence, the 1989 general election arithmetic meant that Dáil Éireann failed in its duty to elect a Taoiseach. A deadlocked Dáil forced Fianna Fáil to abandon its core principle of single party government and enter into coalition with its bitter political enemies, the Progressive Democrats (PDs). Charles J. Haughey’s pragmatism complemented his ambitious appetite for power. The PDs now had two senior cabinet positions, including the poisoned chalice at the Department of Industry and Commerce.¹ This decision altered...

  11. 6 The tribunal period: 1990s–2000s (pp. 143-191)

    A series of state sponsored investigations into political impropriety in the 1990s and 2000s revealed for the first time that unaccountable political decisions were not isolated incidents, as previous episodes seemed to suggest. The various inquiries instead exposed how those at the highest positions of power periodically abused their political discretion to benefit private interests. This chapter demonstrates that an improper relationship existed between the receipt of political donations and discretionary political decisions which at best can be described as being in breach of the most rudimentary conflict of interest considerations.

    The entrenched nature of this conduct also suggested that...

  12. 7 Political funding and the legislative response: 1980s–2010 (pp. 192-208)

    Democracy is not free and money is necessary for political parties to perform their basic democratic functions. These include selecting, recruiting, and training candidates for public office; mobilising voters; participating in elections; forming government or serving as the Opposition; designing and implementing policy alternatives and providing the main link between citizens and government.

    Yet, unorthodox inflow of private sources of capital to a political party compromises the very premise of democracy. Corrupt political financing is defined as political contributions that contravene existing laws on political donations; the unauthorised use of state resources for partisan political purposes; the acceptance of money...

  13. 8 Political corruption in Ireland: 1922–2010 (pp. 209-244)

    This book reveals a hidden Irish history between the inauguration of political independence in 1922 and the loss of economic sovereignty in 2010. It has presented the context within which political culture responded to corruption since the foundation of the state. The integrity of political activity was analysed to assess what the critical junctures were that caused behaviour to change. It found that the type of corruption altered as a transformation of Ireland’s political, economic and social structures occurred. The decline of standards is best represented with the contrast between the 1924 episode where the Minister for Finance charged ministers...

  14. Bibliography (pp. 245-262)
  15. Index (pp. 263-273)