The Chair of Tusla has said the organisation will “have to examine” the case of a whistleblower who was left without income after he was led to believe he was on unpaid leave.
The Irish Examiner this morning revealed that a Tusla whistleblower had offered his resignation last January, alleging stress caused by the treatment he received from colleagues after he raised concerns about procurement issues.
He subsequently received a letter from Tusla to inform him that its Director of Quality Assurance would instead recommend that Human Resources would place him on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation into his claims.
However this did not happen, and the whistleblower went weeks without payment, only to discover that his original resignation had been accepted, despite the subsequent letter.
Tusla Chair Pat Rabbitte was today in Cork to address a stakeholder meeting. He told the Irish Examiner that while he was not familiar with the details of the case, the situation “will have to be examined”.
He said that in his opinion the culture of Tusla is best represented by the Director of Quality Assurance’s recommendation, and that he did not know why human resources did not implement this. “There may be a reason why HR did what they did, we will have to examine this,” he said.
This newspaper’s report was raised at the stakeholder meeting by Cork East TD and Labour spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Sean Sherlock.
He told the Irish Examiner that potential whistleblowers will be “alarmed” at the details of the story and that the case is "deeply worrying".
“Tusla needs to clarify what happened here, and why the recommendation of the Director of Quality Assurance was not followed by Human Resources," Mr Sherlock said. “The way this person was treated will have the direct impact of alarming and warning off other potential whistleblowers because of the impact of raising concerns would have on their career. This is not how the Protected Disclosures Act is meant to be used.
“Despite the independent third party expressing concerns about the impact on the whistleblower’s welfare it appears nothing was done about it.
“The whistleblower had been told that a recommendation was made to HR that they remain on payroll pending the outcome of the investigation. We now need to know why this wasn’t done,” Mr Sherlock said.
Kathleen Funchion Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs has called for an investigation into the allegation and claimed Tusla has illustrated on numerous occasions that it is not fit for purpose.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs did not respond to queries at time of publication.