Political Corruption in the Irish Republic - An Historical Reminder
The government have announced new plans to beef up the law around white collar crime. Two Bills will soon be brought before the Dáil to disband the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and create tougher measures for corporate crime and bribery in the public sector.1 The backdrop to this is the failure of the ODCE to successfully investigate the former Anglo Irish Bank Chairman, Sean Fitzpatrick. The Fitzpatrick case collapsed earlier this year when ODCE solicitor, Kevin O’ Connell, shredded documents that were important to the case. This allowed Fitzpatrick to slip the net, as the judge ruled the case against him to be ‘biased’ and ‘partisan’.
The ongoing tracker mortgage scandal is also a factor, with the government anxious to placate an angry public. The Irish bankers have acted appallingly. Tens of thousands of people have been moved off tracker mortgages by banks who illegally put their customers onto higher cost variable rates. This made the banks around €600 million in extra profits, but the costs to their victims have been incalculable.
Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Finance in October, Thomas Ryan recounted how the stress of losing his tracker mortgage led him to have a stroke in 2013. His wife Claire has also suffered, losing the power of her speech and suffering a mental breakdown in 2015. These crimes should now be investigated and those found guilty should be put in jail. This is not what the government have in store, however.