Sinn Féin TD for Louth Imelda Munster has said that a report into prisons’ Voluntary Mess Committees has vindicated a former prison officer who brought the issue to light through protected disclosure.
Deputy Munster was speaking following a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee with the Department of Justice earlier today.
Teachta Munster said:
“Last year I requested that the Public Accounts Committee seek an independent external review of the issues raised by a former prison guard who had blown the whistle on questionable financial practices within the Voluntary Mess Committees operating within Irish prisons.
“This report substantiates the issues raised by that whistleblower.
“However, while the loss of that individual’s job is directly related to their having blown the whistle, today when I put direct questions to representatives of the Irish Prison Service, they were unable to indicate if any disciplinary action was taken in relation to a plethora of matters considered within this report.
“It is welcome that the department has accepted this report and has committed to a high level review to be completed within the next 12 weeks so as to ensure that this report does result in the highest standards being implemented into the future.
“But it must be acknowledged that this whistleblower has joined the ranks of those who have borne personal hardship for speaking out in the public interest.
“This whistleblower has yet to be compensated by the state for the manner in which they were treated, while the department actually appealed a decision by the Workplace Relations Commission to do so.
“It is now incumbent on the department to take responsibility for this sorry mess, and a good start would be engaging directly with this whistleblower to finally resolve this outstanding matter.”