05 March 2009 | Martha McKenzie- Minifie
Local authorities in the Republic of Ireland have been urged to help deter fraud by publishing details of the most costly public contracts.
It was one of the recommendations of the National Integrity System Country Study published yesterday by anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI).
The study listed the country's public contracting system among sectors most vulnerable to fraud, corruption and the abuse of power. Although the Irish Republic is perceived to be the 16th least corrupt country of 180 ranked by TI, the report found it was regarded as having high levels of "legal corruption".
Study editor John Devitt said: "Although no laws may be broken, personal relationships, patronage, political favours, and political donations are believed to influence political decisions and policy to a considerable degree."
The research made more than 30 recommendations, including introducing laws to protect whistleblowers, putting councillors' declarations of interest online and publishing details of some of the most costly public contracts in an annual Comptroller and Auditor General report.
The Republic of Ireland's Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform sponsored the study.