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McDonald urges extension of whistleblowers’ bill to public service

18 April, 2012 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Following today’s meeting of the finance, public expenditure and reform committee, with Minister Brendan Howlin, to discuss the Whistleblowers’ Bill, Sinn Féin committee member Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed the legislation and urged the Minister to now constructively engage with all stakeholders on the necessary amendments that now need to be made.
The Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson said:
“Publication of the drafts heads of the Whistleblowers’ Bill is indeed welcome however the need now is to progress this legislation through the Oireachtas ensuring that all the necessary protections are in place for workers who expose wrongdoing against the public interest.
“Extending the definition of employees as envisaged in the Bill to contractors, trainees and agency staff is a positive move. Sinn Féin would like to see Whistleblowers’ protection extended to those within the public service and state agencies who report gross wastage of public funds as is currently allowed for in US legislation.
“The Government’s current legislative proposals do not include protections for those who are seeking to make an anonymous disclosure, however experience and research shows that whistleblowers prefer to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. Fair protocols for anonymous disclosure must be included in the legislation.
“The legislation needs to include a definition of ‘good faith’ to avoid unnecessary legal wrangling in the courts and the definition of protected disclosure has I believe has been too narrowly defined by government. In addition it appears the onus is on the whistleblower to show that a public official has consciously or maliciously neglected or mismanaged his or her duties in order to secure the protections of the Bill. If this is the intention of Bill then this provision must be amended.
“The establishment and publication of international procedures for protected disclosures for all public sector organisations should be extended to all organisations in the public, private and community sectors.
“Sinn Féin welcomes the publication of the draft heads of the Whistleblowers’ Bill and now urges government to bring legislation to the Dáil and Seanad as a matter of urgency.” ENDS

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