Whistleblowers have made serious allegations at one in four Irish firms

About 85% of industry professionals do not believe white collar crime is sufficiently enforced in Ireland, survey finds

White collar crime is not tackled with enough vigour in Ireland. That’s the view of 85 per cent of business leaders, according to a survey by law firm Mason Hayes & Curran.

It comes as the same executives admitted that one in four of their businesses had received a protected disclosure alleging serious wrongdoing in the last three years.

The disclosures came from a survey of 200 professionals attending a whistleblowing and white collar crime webinar hosted by the firm on the recently-enacted Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022.

The new act imposes significant obligations on employers in Ireland to facilitate and support workers in making protected disclosures internally. Employers with more than 50 employees have a duty to “establish, maintain and operate internal reporting channels and procedures”, partner Elizabeth Ryan said.


It broadens the definition of workers to include job applicants, shareholders, members of boards and volunteers.

And it also expands the actions that could be seen as penalising a whistleblower. This now includes negative performance assessments, harm to reputation via social media and psychiatric or medical referrals.

This is designed to reassure potential whistleblowers as, significantly, there is no onus on employers to follow up on anonymous disclosures. That means anyone looking to raise concerns must identify themselves.

As it stands, 15 per cent of those attending said that, as of now, their organisations did not have a process in place where a worker can make a protected disclosure.

While the large majority felt more needs to be done in tackling white collar crime, four in five were not at all in favour of financial rewards for whistleblowers as happens in some other countries, including the United States.

Whether it all leads to tougher action remains to be seen. As Mason Hayes & Curran partner Peter Johnston said: “Proving white collar crime is notoriously difficult.”