Political corruption in Ireland, 1922–2010

A crooked harp?

Elaine A. Byrne
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Ireland's national emblem, the harp, implies that concepts of meritocracy and legitimate entitlement are superseded by notions of special advantage through unorthodox and clandestine influence. This book maps the decline in standards since the inauguration of Irish independence in 1922, to the loss of Irish economic sovereignty in 2010. It examines how the deliberate policy of Augustine Birrell to 'green' Dublin Castle through patronage contributed to the downfall of the Irish party and had a profound bearing on the development of post-independent Ireland. The book reveals how the policy of economic protectionalism in the 1930s and 1940s provided the opportunity to exercise discretionary decisions to political allies in the issuing of licences, shares, leases and export quotas. The Tribunal trilogy from 1943 to 1947 contributed to the government collapse in 1944 and the removal of Fianna Fáil from power in 1948. The book assesses that discretionary political decisions were replaced by the authorisation of planning permission in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The shortcomings of planning legislation in the 1960s and the response of the 1973-1977 National Coalition government to alleged corruption, determined the framework for political culture in the subsequent 30 years. The book explores allegations of political favouritism towards the beef industry and within the privatisation process of state sponsored bodies in the 1980s and 1990s. It details how reliance on the beef industry was replaced by property and construction interests in the 1990s and 2000s, while assessing how the definition of corruption evolved from 1922 to 2010.

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