Political corruption in Ireland 1922–2010

A crooked harp?

By Elaine Byrne

Political corruption in Ireland 1922–2010


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8688-5
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: February 2012
  • BIC Category: Politics & government, Political corruption, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, Society & social sciences / Political corruption, Humanities / British & Irish history


This book empirically maps the decline in standards since the inauguration of Irish independence in 1922, to the loss of Irish economic sovereignty in 2010. It argues that the definition of corruption is an evolving one. As the nature of the state changes, so too does the type of corruption.

New evidence is presented on the early institutional development of the state. Irish public life was motivated by an ethos which rejected patronage. Original research provides fresh insights into how the policies of economic protectionalism and discretionary decision making led to eight Tribunal inquires.

The emergence of state capture within political decision making is examined by analysing political favouritism towards the beef industry. The degree to which unorthodox links between political donations impacted on policy choices which exacerbated the depth of Ireland's economic collapse is considered.

This book will appeal to students and scholars of Irish politics, corruption theory, governance, public policy and political financing.


... scholarly and politically alert, forensic and fascinating.
David Gardner, Financial Times, 03/06/2012

Among the many angry books to poke through the debris of the crisis that still engulfs Ireland, this is the most scholarly explanation of how it happened.
David Gardner, Financial Times, 03/06/2012

"Byrne has produced a perspicacious, highly readable account of the way Irish corruption morphed as the state's political, economic and social structures changed. In the wake of Ireland's loss of economic sovereignty, the book's central message - that only a vibrant, transparent political culture offers effective protection against the corrosive power of corruption - seems particularly vital."
Peter Geoghegan, Freelance Writer/Journalist, Times Literary Supplement 26/10/2012

an absorbing and very accessible book on how a defective moral code at the top of Irish politics and society contributed to the effective ruin of the country.

Byrne, on the page as in reality, is never less than fair and never more than concise

[a] powerfully made arguement

"The publication of this book is to be warmly welcomed. There was a flurry of scholarship on brokerage and clientelism in Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s with important studies by Max Bax, Paul Sachs, Lee Komito and J.P. O'Carroll being published. However, as Byrne rightly notes, much recent scholarship on corruption has focused on governance in Africa, Asia and South America while ignoring corrupt political cultures in societies such as Ireland. Byrne's well-written and detailed analysis is a very successful attempt to redress that balance."

(Niamh Hourigan, University College, Cork, Irish Journal of Sociology, 2014)


1. Introduction
2. Why so little corruption? 1900s-20s
3. Setting standards: 1930s-40s
4. At a crossroads? 1950s-70s
5. Golden circles: 1980s - 90s
6. The Tribunal period: 1990s-2000s
7. Political funding and the legislative response 1980s - 2010
8. Political corruption in Ireland 1922-2010


Elaine Byrne is an adjunct lecturer in Irish Politics at Trinity College Dublin.

Political corruption in Ireland 1922–2010

By Elaine Byrne

Paperback £16.99 / $26.95

Hardcover £80.00 / $120.00

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