GSOC hires after surge in complaints

Four investigators are being hired by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) to take on a surge in whistleblower complaints from members of the force.

GSOC received 13 protected disclosures in the first six months of 2017, compared to 11 over the previous three years.

The watchdog had sought a special allocation of staff to be granted by Department of Public Expenditure in order to establish a dedicated protected disclosure unit.

Shortly after it publicly raised the issue in the Oireachtas, GSOC was given a sanction for five extra staff.

At the time, GSOC welcomed it as a “starting allocation of personnel”, but pointed out that up until then it had not been given any additional staff or resources to investigate these cases since it was given a role to do so in 2014.

It received four complaints during 2014 and 2015 and seven cases in 2016.

GSOC said four of the five staff were now going through the appointment process.

“Four prospective investigators are currently being processed through public jobs to take up positions within the protected disclosure unit following an open competition,” said a spokesman.

“This follows a GSOC submission to [the department] for a larger staffed unit to deal with such matters.”

Asked about the progress of the investigations, the spokesman said GSOC said it did not comment on such matters as it had a legal obligation to protect the identity of anyone making such disclosures.

“To comment one way or the other jeopardises that statutory protection,” he said.

“A discloser, himself or herself, makes their own decision as to what information, if any, they wish to come into the public arena.

“That does not relieve GSOC from its statutory obligations under the 2014 Act.”

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