Legal protection for whistleblowers urged

Thu, Dec 10, 2009, 00:00

WHISTLEBLOWERS MUST be given legal protection so that scandals do not go unreported, anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International (TI) Ireland has said.

Speaking on International Anti Corruption Day yesterday, TI Ireland chief executive John Devitt said the safeguards for employees who report evidence or a genuine suspicion of wrongdoing were ineffective. “Our study shows serious gaps in the legal framework for whistleblowers. Not all employees in either the public or private sector are safe from retaliation if they report wrongdoing.”

Despite recent scandals protections in some key areas were particularly weak, he said.

“There is little if any protection for whistleblowers in the financial services and business sector, while whistleblower codes and guidance throughout the public service are virtually non-existent.”

Whistleblower legislation, which would cover all areas of public and private enterprise rather than a piecemeal sector by sector approach, was needed to protect employees, but the Government remained “actively opposed” to its introduction, Mr Devitt said.

“Its response is all the more shocking after what has been exposed in our banking sector and the role fear and silence played in covering up the sexual abuse of children for decades”.

TI Ireland is also calling for Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The Irish Government is one of the few signatories to the convention not to have ratified and implemented it, Mr Devitt said. “The UNCAC is to the prevention of corruption and promotion of democracy what the Kyoto Protocol is to climate change, yet Ireland is still dragging its heels. It’s getting embarrassing.”