Delivering his inaugural address at the Institute of Directors in Ireland Autumn Lunch today, newly elected President of the Institute, Tom Byrne, said that the drive to rebuild the country’s reputation must have at its core a change in attitudes and behaviour. “Standards must be set in high places and we must ensure that we never lapse back into the corporate behaviours of the past, behaviours that have done so much damage to our national and international interests,” he said.

Tom Byrne was addressing over 450 of Ireland’s senior business leaders at the lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin, at which An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, was the Guest of Honour.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said: “Restoring public trust is one of the major challenges Ireland faces as a country where many people have been let down by those in positions of influence and authority. A determination to rebuild the country’s reputation through demonstrating new standards of integrity will be at the heart of our recovery.  I welcome Tom Byrne’s focus on this as he takes over the presidency of the Institute of Directors in Ireland and wish him well in the task.”

Tom Byrne called on Ireland’s directors and business leaders to take personal responsibility in their own areas of influence. “We must all behave in a manner that is both ethical and honest, with personal and professional integrity at the centre of our business dealings, and we must demand the same standards from others.”

While acknowledging the role of regulation in Ireland’s recovery, he warned of the need to “be vigilant that over-regulation does not inhibit business or make Ireland a less attractive place in which to do business. Regulation is not a substitute for doing the right thing in the first instance,” he said.

Tom Byrne spoke of the role of Institute of Directors in Ireland in providing training and resources to educate directors as to their responsibilities and obligations and how good corporate governance is both good business and good for business.

He called on all those occupying the boardrooms of Ireland to “ask the difficult questions, encourage constructive debate and challenge the executive.”

“When things go wrong,” he continued, “do not hide behind excuses or shift the blame. Stand up and set the tone of behaviour from the top. If we lead the way, then others will follow. For doing the right thing, is always the right thing to do.”