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Addressing Corruption

Bribery and corruption undermine development efforts and particularly impact on the poor. Ireland is very committed to ensuring that bribes to officials either at home or abroad are treated as criminal offences.

Ireland’s international obligations in the fight against corruption

OECD Bribery Convention

The OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions was signed in December 1997 and came into force in February 1999.  Ireland ratified the Convention in September 2003.  The Convention is aimed at reducing corruption in developing countries by encouraging sanctions against bribery in international business transactions carried out by companies based in the convention member countries. 

Ireland’s implementation of this convention is monitored by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. Phase 3 of that review is scheduled to take place in October 2013.

More information on Ireland’s commitments under this Convention are available at

UN Convention Against Corruption

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention against Corruption in 2003. The objectives of the Convention are to promote measures that will prevent and combat corruption efficiently and effectively and to encourage and enhance international cooperation.  The Convention is structured around four fundamental components of tackling corruption on an international scale.

  • Preventive Measures
  • Criminalisation
  • International Cooperation
  • Asset Recovery

Ireland was one of 94 States who signed the UN Convention against Corruption in Merida, Mexico in 2003. The Government of Ireland is fully committed to its implementation and Irish Government delegations participated in the first two Conferences of States Parties.  The Convention entered into force on 14 December 2005. Ireland ratified the Convention in November 2011. Ireland’s implementation of the UNCAC will be reviewed in 2013.

The law on corruption in Ireland

The law on corruption in Ireland is primarily covered by the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2001 which was amended in 2010.

There are strong penalties in place, of up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine, for those found guilty of offences under the Act, including convictions of bribery of foreign public officials by Irish nationals and companies. 

In relation to corruption occurring outside the State, the legislation on corruption now extends to virtually all persons, including companies, having a connection with the State.

A key provision in the Act is the protection afforded to whistleblowers. In relation to suspected corruption offences abroad, the Act contains provisions enabling reports to be made to diplomatic or consular officers and foreign police forces.

How we address corruption

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade cooperates closely with other Government Departments and with the relevant state agencies to both raise awareness and ensure effective implementation of Ireland’s international obligations in this area.  

On our Evaluation and Audit page, you can learn about the steps we take to ensure that Irish Aid funds reach their intended beneficiaries.

Find out more about our efforts to strengthen accountability and counter corruption in our Key Partner Countries.