Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called for greater protections for whistle-blowers whilst speaking at a debate in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Welcoming the proposal for an EU Directive, and demanding urgent attention of European Governments to get this done, Senator Gavan said:
“Whistle-blowers play an essential role in any open and transparent democracy.
“They need to be given recognition and protection in law. This is a matter of fundamental rights.
“We need responsible citizens to disclose serious failings in the public interest if they come across them within government or in the private sector.”
Senator Gavan cited the cases of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to demonstrate the lack of protections at present.
The Limerick-based Senator continued:
“Whistle-blowers need protection so they can help hold governments to account without fear of repercussion.
“The proposal for an EU Directive is another major step forward, but there’s much more to be done.
“Above all, look at the callous murder of Daphne Caruana Galicia in Malta. Yesterday, we heard how her memorial is being routinely destroyed by the Government of Malta.
“May her name continue to ring out throughout this chamber until justice is done!”
“One of the major issues affecting our societies is the use of tax havens by extremely wealthy individuals and companies.
“They are using tax loopholes to hide vast amounts of money they should be paying tax on in foreign tax havens. Unfortunately, my country, Ireland, is part of this global tax haven structure.
“We got an insight into this gross tax evasion due to the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers journalistic investigation.
“This could only happen because a whistle blower or whistle blowers leaked data and information that was clearly in the public interest.
“We need more whistle-blowing to reveal how corrupt and damaging such tax evasion is for our economies and societies, and to expose misuse of private data.
“The term whistle-blower must be broadly defined so as to cover any individual or legal entity that reveals or reports, in good faith, a crime or lesser offence, a breach of the law or a threat or harm to the public interest that they became aware of either directly or indirectly.”