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Government asked to consider creating an offence of nepotism around political appointments

The recommendation's been made in a new report tackling white collar crime

A new report on tackling white collar crime has recommended the government consider creating an offence of nepotism around political appointments.

It also wants to fix a loophole in the law that means members of the Oireachtas who breach ethics rules can’t be investigated once they leave the Dáil or Seanad.

Other changes include giving gardaí search warrants to access passwords for electronic devices.

A review looking at economic crime and corruption has been carried out by the former Director of Public Prosecutions James Hamilton and makes a number of interesting recommendations.

Among them are greater powers and resources for SIPO, the DPP and the Garda Economic and Crime Bureau.

It recommends legislation to give gardaí standalone search warrants to require people under arrest to give up passwords for phones, laptops and other devices.

It also says Ethics laws should be reformed to end a gaping loophole.

At the moment former TDs and Senators who were not Ministers can’t be investigated for breaches of ethics laws while they were in office.

This became a controversy around former TD Dara Murphy last year when questions were raised about the expenses he claimed while being largely based in Brussels working a second job.

The Hamilton review also recommends further consideration of a criminal law around nepotism.

While details of that have to be worked out the essence is to avoid any preferential treatment in state contracts or appointments, or the improper use of influence.

It is not intended to focus on situations where politicians may hire family members for parliamentary assistant roles.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has received the report and says she will spearhead a cross government approach to tackling corruption and white collar crime.