A former member of the Standards in Public Office Commission has said there is no political will to bring in stronger ethics legislation.

Former ombudsman and information commissioner Peter Tyndall says the current system is "completely dysfunctional" and deliberately "designed to be cumbersome" and needs to be replaced as a matter of urgency

Mr Tyndall was a member of SIPO from 2013 to 2021.

Speaking to RTÉ's The Week in Politics, he said "I think you'd have to ask yourself who’s got the job of reforming the legislation and the answer is the people who more effective legislation would hold accountable.

"A cynic might argue it’s not in the best interests of the people charged with the job of reforming it, to actually get on and do it."

Recent controversy over minister for finance Paschal Donohoe’s postering during the 2016 and 2020 elections and Sinn Féin's 2020 election expenses statement to SIPO have prompted calls for a review of the current regime.

However, Mr. Tyndall says "tinkering at the edges" of the current system is not enough.

He wants to see a new law which would give SIPO the power to launch its own investigation and to sanction anyone who breaches the rules up to and including disqualification from office for the most egregious offences.

"SIPO currently has no sanctions. Any effective legislation would have to be able to sanction individuals who breached it. Whether that be suspension, censure or even disqualification from public office for the more grievous offences."

Mr Tyndall is calling for a system that would work along the lines of a parliamentary standards Commission, with an open and transparent applications process run by the Oireachtas rather than the Government.

"The people who are appointed to SIPO are appointed by government and I think under the current circumstances anybody would argue it should not be a government appointment and that any appointment should be open and transparent.

"Any ethics body or individual should be separate from the government which it has to hold to account."

He says under any new regime the powers given to SIPO would need to be proportionate, with commissioners able to dismiss trivial, vexatious or mischievous complaints.

Mr Tyndall did not want to comment on any current controversies but did note "there is a complexity to completing some of these returns, so inevitably there will be some oversight and omissions. People would be more mindful if they knew an egregious offence could lead to their suspension or disqualification."

"During my time as ombudsman, I was aware of several governments bringing forward urgent legislation to address the known shortcomings, but nothing ever transpired. I think the measure of this won't be in the promises it will be in the delivery."

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Thomas Byrne has said he believes new ethics legislation due to be published this year will be in place for elections next year.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics, Mr Byrne said there have been "difficulties" over the last few weeks with issues around Mr Donohoe's election expenses and a "huge amount of stone-throwing" from the Opposition.

He said that while every party is entitled to fundraise, there are limits, and SIPO is there to enforce those limits and ensure there is a level playing field.

"Yes we want to improve things and yes we're committed to doing that, but if you look at Transparency International's report on corruption across the world, Ireland is very high ranked on that in terms of lack of corruption," he said.

Speaking on the same programme, Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said SIPO laws need to be reformed.

He said that while his party "made errors", they put their hands up and dealt with those errors.

"We have accepted that errors were made, they were administrative errors," he said. "We put our hands up, we dealt with them immediately.

"What we're talking about here in terms of Paschal Donohoe - he was informed in 2017 of a corporate donation, he did nothing about it."