Thomas Pringle TD

“Protecting Whistleblowers is Vitally Important” – Thomas Pringle TD

"Protecting Whistleblowers is Vitally Important" - Thomas Pringle TD

Protecting Whistleblowers is Vitally Important We in Ireland, with the case of Maurice McCabe know the importance of whistleblowers. Many public bodies and organisations rely on the effect of whistleblowing in order to provide effective governance. It is a sad reflection on public organisations, but having effective protections and indeed having effective Ombudsman legislations are critical to ensure the effective operation of public institutions. It is a fact that many employees and public organisations are afraid to highlight problems with the system that they are implementing and love to see the problems being highlighted so that they can react to them. More Info: http://thomaspringle.ie/2019/10/02/protecting-whistleblowers-is-vitally-important-thomas-pringle-td/

Posted by Thomas Pringle TD on Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The protection of whistleblowers is vitally important. Many public bodies and organisations rely on the effect of whistleblowing in order to provide effective governance. It is a sad reflection on public organisations, but having effective protections and indeed having effective Ombudsman legislations which we will also be discussing this week are critical to ensure the effective operation of public institutions. It is a fact that many employees and public organisations are afraid to highlight problems with the system that they are implementing and love to see the problems being highlighted so that they can react to them.

In Ireland we have good legislation that has been enacted in the last few years. Much of it in response to whistleblower cases that we have had locally. Unfortunately like everything in Ireland we have good legislation and rules however the operation of them in practice leaves a lot to be desired. This is something that as a nation we will have to confront and tackle head-on. The jury will have to wait and see if our dealing with issues of whistleblowing will improve. I hope it will. But unfortunately, all we have at the moment is hope.

Over the last number of years we have had some high-profile cases of whistleblowers. The most notable of which has been the case of Maurice McCabe, a member of our police force who highlighted cases that he was concerned with and which were of concern to everyone in Irish society. However the Gardaí and the political establishment sought to try and destroy him and his reputation. Interestingly he had recorded relevant conversations and that was what saved him and allowed the significant issues he highlighted to be exposed. It was not legislation or the will of the establishment that made sure that his concerns would be addressed. I think this highlights the difficulty that officialdom has on accepting the need for whistleblowing. This needs to be an integral part of legislation.

I think it was important also to highlight the treatment of whistleblowers around Europe. I’m thinking of the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia from Malta, who gave her life in pursuit of wrongdoing and exposing it to the court of public opinion. In her case she could not rely on the state to deal with the issue because the state was at the heart of the problem. Thankfully in Ireland we have not experienced the awful death of a journalist or whistleblower who has exposed the wrongdoing of the state. But whistleblowers have suffered greatly from their experience.

I think it is interesting that the protection of whistleblowers is only now coming on the agenda. Is it because of the high profile cases that have been seen across Europe and the world? That is interesting I think in itself. It is not over the will of officialdom to be responsible, but through reaction to what has happened in all our societies that is making this possible. That is why it will not be enough for us to have good legislation, but we as a political establishment will have to commit to making it work as well.

 


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