INTERNATIONAL: Duffy scandal instigates insider knowledge law

DUBLIN: The Irish government is set to introduce legislation to prevent high-ranking civil servants from moving directly into PR and public affairs.

DUBLIN: The Irish government is set to introduce legislation to

prevent high-ranking civil servants from moving directly into PR and

public affairs.



The move follows controversy in the Irish media concerning Paddy Duffy,

who resigned as political adviser to prime minister Bertie Ahern on 9

June.



Duffy was a non-executive director of Dublin-based PR company Dillon

Consultants while working for Ahern. He resigned from the prime

minister’s office following reports of his role at Dillon. The agency’s

web site went as far as listing him as one of its major assets.



The government is currently examining whether legislation may be needed

to cover possible conflicts of interest where public servants dealing

with sensitive privatisation issues leave to join outside companies.



Ahern said last week that it might be necessary to create a time gap

between leaving the public service and taking up private sector

employment to prevent special knowledge being used for commercial

advantage.



This move would resemble the ’cooling off’ period imposed on UK civil

servants when they leave to join PR and lobbying firms.



Dillon Consultants recently advised US telecommunications company NTL on

the purchase from two Irish state companies of Cablelink, the country’s

largest cable TV firm. It had also organised, through Duffy, a meeting

between NTL and Ahern.



In parliament, Ahern refused to accept that his adviser had been guilty

of misconduct, but described his relationship with Dillon Consultants as

’inappropriate’ and a breach of the Ethics in Public Office Act.



He insisted that Duffy had played no role in advising NTL on the

Cablelink bid and said he had already paid a high price for a ’bad

mistake’.



Duffy had intended to join Dillon Consultants when he quit the public

service at the end of the year, and claimed in a statement that he had

been listed as a director due to ’a misunderstanding’.



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