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Irish whistle-blowing law welcomed

The anti-corruption pressure group Transparency International Ireland (TI Ireland) has welcomed the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. John Devitt, Chief Executive of TI Ireland, called the Act a very important step in providing whistleblowers with the protection they deserve. He said: “The new law draws on best practice guidelines and takes a more comprehensive approach similar to that adopted in the UK, New Zealand and South Africa. For the first time, whistleblower legislation offers a safety net to workers in all sectors of the Irish economy.”

Key provisions in the Act include:

A prohibition on penalising workers who make protected disclosures and a wide definition of ‘worker’ to include employees, contractors, agency workers and work experience students.
A range of ‘relevant wrongdoings’ which can be reported including criminal offences, breaches of legal obligations, threats to health and safety or the environment, miscarriages of justice, improper use of public funds or any attempt to conceal information in relation to such wrongdoings.
A ‘stepped disclosure system’ which encourages workers to report to employers in the first instance.

Susheela Math, TI Ireland’s Legal Counsellor, said: ‘While the Act is not perfect and will not affect cultural change on its own, the new legislation should prove to be far clearer and more reliable than legislation enacted up until recently. It is now in the interests of all employers to take steps to comply with the new law, to minimise the risks of adverse litigation and loss of reputation – and to make use of the opportunity to address any problems within their organisations at an early stage.’

TI Ireland says that it has campaigned for the introduction of a blanket piece of legislation since 2007 and has operated a free-phone helpline for whistleblowers since 2011. The non-profit organisation has been involved in shaping the new law including a wider definition of ‘worker’, stronger protection of the whistleblower’s identity and rights for whistleblowers to take legal action for any harm they suffer.

Whistleblowers and witnesses of official malpractice can call TI Ireland’s free-phone ‘Speak Up’ helpline at 1800 844 866 or email [email protected] Visit www.speakup.ie. TI Ireland adds that it will launch a guide to whistleblowing this autumn.


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