Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, and TD Pat Buckley have today introduced new legislation to the Dáil to provide vital protection for whistleblowers who expose corruption.
Speaking today, Teachta Farrell said:
“I am proud to be introducing this legislation with my colleague Pat Buckley TD. This Bill will provide vital protections for whistleblowers and ensure they are not penalised for bringing the truth to light.
“This Bill has been crafted in consultation with legal practitioners, academics and whistle-blowers themselves to ensure it addresses the current flaws in the system.
“The legislation will broaden the definition of ‘penalisation’ to include ‘hindering or attempting to hinder further reporting’ and ‘vexatious proceedings against a discloser’. Where an employee alleges penalisation as a result of making a protected disclosure, the burden of proof lies will now lie with the employer to demonstrate this is not the case.
“It also broadens the definition of ‘employee’ to include those working in volunteer organisations, as associated persons and journalists. It will make an attempt to hinder or penalise any person for making a protected disclosure an offence.
“It also will provide free legal aid and psychological services for whistle-blowers and removes the limitations on financial compensation that whistle-blowers can win by way of redress.
“Importantly, it would further empower the Minister to gather all documents relevant to a protected disclosure made to him or her, regarding his department or bodies under its authority and to pass this information on to the Attorney General in connection with the conduct of legal proceedings on behalf of the State.
“It will also require the Minister to lay before the Oireachtas an annual statistical Protected Disclosures report.”
Teachta Buckley said:
“The legislation we are introducing today is an important step in protecting whistleblowers who bravely come forward to expose wrongdoing. In order to protect our democracy and the public interest, whistleblowers must have adequate protections.
“Too often, people want to come forward about issues of grave concern but feel unable to do so due to their fears about the unfair repercussions they could face by punitive organisations. This only serves to suppress the truth and prevents important disclosures.
“In a healthy, functioning democracy, we must ensure that disclosures in the public interest can be made. Our legislation has been carefully compiled through close consultation with experts and whistleblowers. I am calling on all TDs to support our Bill and ensure it becomes law as soon as possible.”