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Editorial: Something is rotten in the state of Ireland

FIVE years into the recession, and we have yet to see any criminal prosecutions brought against the individuals responsible for what took place in the business, banking and political spheres, which led to the economic and banking implosion.

There is something rotten in the state of Ireland, and increasingly it is the tardiness, or apparent unwillingness of the authorities, to bring the perpetuators of white collar crime to book.

White collar crime does take place in this country, and indeed in some cases it has been rife. To judge from the statistics on convictions, however, you would conclude that there is no occurrence of it. As everyone well knows, however, we are hardly free of it.

Rather, it’s the apparent unwillingness to prosecute, or tackle it in a meaningful way, that is responsible for our enviable paper record on it.

This lack of appetite to face up to wrongdoings in the corporate and political worlds does not say much for the Irish authorities, and is fundamentally unfair on the majority of the Irish public.

Like any sort of crime, white collar crime needs to be punished. Indeed, the prosecution of it should be an imperative.

The bottom line is that standards, regulations and protocols need to be adhered to. We know that this has not been the case in many instances. However, so far in this country we have had no day of reckoning for the bankers, business people and politicians who landed us in this mess. Instead, we are treated to the sordid spectacle as their still lavish lifestyles are paraded across the media.

It reinforces the old maxim that there is one law for them, and one for the rest of us. At the very least, the people responsible should face the full rigours of the law, and then be judged for their actions or otherwise.

That this has not happened to date further erodes any confidence of faith in our institutions, and our system of governance. It is absolutely corrosive for a State which, as a consequence, may yet have to struggle for its legitimacy.

We have an Office of Corporate Enforcement which is taking forever in bringing any cases forward. Its Director recently tried to retire on a huge pension, midway through these ongoing investigations.

The standard reply that they are working with archaic law is no longer, and never was, good enough. Get over it, and get on with it. Time now, boys and girls, to step up to the plate and prove your worth.

As a functioning democracy, we do need to see those responsible in court, have their day, and then move on.

That this has not happened, and is inherently slow, is hugely unfair to a public yoked with austerity and the burden of paying for what has occurred. The old cute whoorism, nod and wink culture and gombeenism must be binned once and for all. Break the golden circle which do exist.

At the very least the Irish public is entitle to a measure of justice.

 

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