Whistleblowers make 222 disclosures across Government departments

A total of 222 protected disclosures by potential whistleblowers have been made across Government departments since legislation to protect such disclosures was first enacted in 2014.

A total of 222 protected disclosures by potential whistleblowers have been made across Government departments since legislation to protect such disclosures was first enacted in 2014.

A great disparity exists between the numbers of such disclosures made by different departments. Several have reported no such actions over that period.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 was first introduced to give protection to anyone hoping to shed light on what they might perceive as malpractice in their workplace, particularly from employer or State retaliation or forced dismissal.

The data was revealed via a series of parliamentary questions tabled by Kildare TD Catherine Murphy.

The most consistent body with regard to volume of disclosure is the Department of Justice which recorded 65 such complaints between 2015 and 2019, with 22 of those still to be concluded.

Meanwhile, in reporting the second highest total since 2014 of 38 disclosures, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection recorded a spike in cases which saw the Department going from zero disclosures in 2016 to a figure of 36 in the three following years.

Some 20 complaints were made in 2018 alone.

In a statement, the Department said that in the years 2017, 2018, and 2019 fully 25 of the 36 disclosures recorded had been made by a single individual.

The Department of Defence and the Defence Forces meanwhile saw 26 disclosures received over the six years between 2014 and 2020, with the level increasing from two to 11 in the 12 months to end 2017.

The Department said those complaints had been submitted both by serving and retired individuals, along with a number made anonymously. Half, or 13, of the complaints had been fully concluded by the end of 2018, it said.

The Department of Housing is unique among the bodies surveyed in that none of the 12 protected disclosures received in the five years between 2015 and 2019 were submitted by its own staff, with all having emanated from other bodies with which the Minister has a legislative function, it said.

Several Departments, including the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Rural and Community Development, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform have received no disclosures whatsoever since the legislation was first brought in.

The Department of Finance said it was not in a position to clarify how many potential disclosures had been made due to the likelihood of any answer not taking into account unofficial complaints having been made which would match the description of an official complaint, something which “very likely has occurred”, Minister Paschal Donohoe said in his reply.

Some 35 disclosures were meanwhile made at the Department of Health since 2014, meanwhile, 21 of which have been concluded, while 23 were made at the Department of Education in the same timeframe.

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