Solicitors to man whistleblowers’ corruption hotline

A WHISTLEBLOWERS hotline manned by solicitors to report corruption and white collar crime is set to be launched next month.

The help phoneline, the first of its kind in Ireland, will advise callers on how to report concerns to gardaí or progress complaints.

Advocacy group Transparency International Ireland is setting up the hotline with help through funding from the European Commission.

Chief executive John Devitt explained that recent research had revealed that increasing numbers of Irish people thought that those in positions of power were affected by corruption.

“The phoneline will provide legal advice as well as access to a panel of solicitors. We’ll also advise callers on making their case heard through the media. We’ll bring them through how to report on an employer or directly to gardaí.”

Up to 13 solicitors have so far agreed voluntarily to man the phoneline, as well as handle reported cases.

Transparency International Ireland has recently handled a number of corruption queries, in areas such as local authorities, the workplace, and the civil service.

The group also recently advised an employee of the Irish Red Cross about concerns he raised online about the management of the charity.

Callers to the hotline, which will be open during business hours, will be advised of their rights under Irish legislation and what protections, if any, are in place if they openly raise concerns about an employer.

Mr Devitt added: “If an employee is in a bank, and they have no prior clearance to report a concern, they could be sued for being in breach of confidentiality agreements, and possibly even lose their bankers’ licence.

“Irish legislation currently does not give a blanket guarantee to protect whistleblowers.”

Transparency International Ireland earlier this month released research that revealed that 60% of Irish people think that levels of corruption in Ireland have increased over the past three years — and political parties and Oireachtas members are seen as the worst affected.

The group said their survey showed that findings were linked to recent events in Irish society, including abuses in the banking sector, the religious arena, and within government.

The survey also revealed 80% of respondents were prepared to take part in the fight against corruption while and 90% said that they would be willing to blow the whistle on corruption.

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