Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mairéad Farrell TD and Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Pat Buckley have today called on Minister Michael McGrath to amend his new Whistleblowing (Protected Disclosures) Bill in line with the Finance Committee’s report recommendations.
Minister McGrath previously indicated that he was willing to work with Deputy Farrell to ensure that the bill could be strengthened further, and she has called on him to be true to his word tomorrow when it comes before committee stage where amendments can be made.
Teachta Farrell said:
“Together with Deputy Pat Buckley, we introduced our own Whistleblowing (Protected Disclosure) Bill last year. This drew upon the best practice of whistleblowing legislation throughout the EU.
“We worked closely in consultation with professionals, academics and whistleblowers themselves.
“Our bill helped to inform my work on the committee when we undertook pre-legislative scrutiny of Minister McGrath’s own bill.
“The Minister did amend his bill in line with some of the committee’s recommendations, but failed to act on other key recommendations.
“Recommendation number one of the committee was that any legislation that would provide additional protections to whistleblowers should be retrospective in nature.
“There are still many whistleblowers who have unresolved cases, some of which have been rolling on for years.
“Some of these whistleblowers appeared before the Finance Committee where they told harrowing stories.
“The costs both financially and medically have been shocking. It is because of these people that we know of the deficiencies in the current Protected Disclosures regime,
“It is therefore the height of injustice that these people, who put their head above the parapet in order to reveal wrongdoing, should be left behind.
“Other weaknesses in Minister McGrath’s bill include the failure to provide legal aid and psychological counselling services to whistleblowers.
“His restrictive criteria for public service whistleblowers to report wrongdoing externally should have been removed, as the committee recommended.
“But most troubling in the current environment is his exclusion for companies with fewer than 50 employees.
“Many professional service firms will have fewer than 50 employees, but could be handling vast sums of money.
“When we think of the billions that went from the IFSC to Russia, do we really want to risk a situation where an employee is less likely to reveal wrongdoing because they might not have access to the same protections?
“Minister McGrath said he wanted to work with me to strengthen this bill; I have submitted amendments on how this can be done. It is now time for him to act.”