The principal objectives of the Protected Disclosure Act 2014 are to encourage staff to make Protected Disclosures at the earliest opportunity and to provide protection where such disclosures are made. I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service issued a revised Protected Disclosures Policy on 1st July 2018. The Policy is aimed at supporting the Irish Prison Service’s values, ensuring employees can raise concerns about relevant wrongdoing which comes to their attention in connection with their employment, without any fear of penalisation, and providing a transparent and confidential process for dealing with concerns.
In order to support the implementation of the policy the Irish Prison Service has committed to the Integrity at Work (IAW) Programme and Pledge of Transparency International Ireland (TII). Staff are made aware of the Transparency International Ireland Speak Up Helpline 1800 844 866 for independent guidance on reporting a concern or making a protected disclosure. A dedicated Protected Disclosure Manager for the Irish Prison Service has been appointed and a dedicated confidential email address and PO Box Number have been set up. The revised policy provides for independent external assessment and investigation. All assessments, investigations and reviews of protected disclosures made under the revised policy are conducted externally.
The procedures are designed to ensure that all protected disclosures will be subject to an independent assessment and investigation followed by appropriate action, based on the investigation findings.
I am informed that senior members of staff from all prisons participated in training run by Transparency International Ireland on managing protected disclosures in July and October 2018. The organisation's commitment to the Integrity at Work programme was promoted internally to coincide with the launch of the new Protected Disclosures policy in July 2018 and information about the Policy and the support available was disseminated via the intranet and by email to all staff. The Policy was launched internally and discussed at staff meetings as well as featuring in the internal newsletter Prison Service News. The Integrity at Work Pledge is displayed in each of the prisons. I am further informed that this information is also included as part of induction for new staff. In terms of external communications, unions and membership bodies have been informed about the Irish Prison Service participation in Integrity at Work Programme.
I am informed there are currently 4 protected disclosures being dealt with by the Irish Prison Service. This does not include protected disclosures received and dealt with by my Department.