Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2065)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

2065. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of protected disclosures for which he has engaged an external consultancy and-or legal firm since 2014 to date; the name of the firms engaged; the year and the costs associated with engaging the consultancy and-or legal firms in respect of protected disclosures; the way in which persons are protected in cases in which an external consultancy firm is engaged in respect of protected disclosures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32391/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As required under the relevant legislation, my Department has a Protected Disclosures Policy in place under which a staff member who wishes to make a protected disclosure may do so to any of the following confidential recipients:

- an independent/external confidential service engaged for this purpose;

- the Head of the Internal Audit Unit in the Department, or

- any member of the Department’s Management Board.

Contact details for all of the above confidential recipients, as well as procedures and protections in respect of making a protected disclosure, are contained in the policy document which has been circulated to all staff and which is also available on the Department's intranet platform.

In accordance with the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, a worker will not be penalised for making a protected disclosure, getting a disclosure wrong or being mistaken, provided the worker had a reasonable belief that the information disclosed showed, or tended to show, wrongdoing.

Following a competitive tendering process, the contract to provide an independent/external confidential recipient service has been provided by the company Resolve Ireland. A modest annual fee is paid to the company for this service and is irrespective of the numbers of disclosures received. The company is obliged to maintain the level of confidentiality as set out in the Department’s policy document.

Since the introduction of the legislation, it has not been necessary for my Department to engage an external consultancy or legal firm in respect of any protected disclosure.