The Protected Disclosure Bill is designed to act as a charter for whistleblowers by affording them significant employment protection. This, in turn, should act as a major weapon in exposing corruption.
People were frequently afraid to expose the wrong-doing of their employers for fear of losing their jobs. The Unfair Dismissals Act of 1997 will be extended to provide cover for whistleblowers.
This country has witnessed the exposure of the malpractices of medical consultants, the questionable practice of bankers, the irresponsible extravagance of civil servants, dishonesty of politicians, and the abuse of the penalty points system by gardaí. The offenders may be few in any of those areas, but a great many people suffered because the abuses were not tackled earlier.
Some of the greatest scandals, such as the child abuse scandals, were allowed to fester because there was no protection for whistleblowers. Timely intervention is the most effective remedy for any abuse, and whistleblowing is a distinct aid to earlier intervention.
The aim of the new legislation should be warmly welcomed. Whistleblowers are not like the informers of old. Their actions are noble, and they should be encouraged for the good of society.
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