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Protected Disclosures

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (269)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

269. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the number of protected disclosures made to his Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021. [29634/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Deputy, I have been informed by my officials that the response set out below covers the numbers of protected disclosures as required under section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. As detailed in the response, it is not possible to release some of the information requested.

In broad terms, a ‘Protected Disclosure’ is a disclosure of information which the discloser believes may reveal wrongdoing and which came to the attention of the discloser through their employment. This is a very broad category of information. As such, it can be expected that in many cases disclosures falling into this category are received and dealt with in an appropriate proper manner without the person making the disclosure or those receiving it ever adverting to the fact that the information could be regarded as constituting a Protected Disclosure.

The legal obligations which arise in respect of Protected Disclosures consist principally of not penalising the discloser for making the disclosure and protecting the identity of the person making the disclosure in some circumstances. These obligations would be routinely met without the need for any legal obligation to compel this to occur, so that it is generally not relevant whether the information constitutes a Protected Disclosure within the meaning of the legislation or not. It is, therefore, not possible to be certain that no disclosures which fall within the definition of Protected Disclosure but which have not been formally identified as a Protected Disclosure per se have been received.

It is for these reasons that it is not possible to provide a comprehensive and exhaustive response to the Deputy's question. Having said that, it is important to state that the Department of Finance has put in place policy and procedures for the making of Protected Disclosures in the Department, which have been developed in line with the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and agreed by the Department’s Executive Board. This sets out the process by which a ‘worker’ of the Department can make a Protected Disclosure, what will happen when a disclosure is made, and what the Department will do to protect the discloser.

The process supports the Department’s strong commitment to ensuring that the culture and working environment of the Department encourage, facilitate and support any member of staff of the Department in ‘speaking-up’ on any issue that may impact adversely on the Department’s ability to properly and fully carry out all its roles and responsibilities to the highest performance standard required. Two alternative confidential recipients have been nominated to receive Protected Disclosures from internal staff, in the event that a staff member does not wish to make the disclosure to their Line Manager or the normal Senior Management Team. These nominees are the Department’s Head of Legal and the Compliance Officer. To date, neither of these officers have received such an internal Protected Disclosure.

Section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act requires the publication of a report in respect of Protected Disclosures received in the preceding year setting out certain information in respect of any Protected Disclosures received. For the purposes of complying with section 22, the Department publishes information regarding Protected Disclosures formally identified as such, without identifying the person making the disclosure. Previous reports indicate that one Protected Disclosure was received in 2017 with a further one in 2018 and another one in 2019. No Protected Disclosure was received during 2020 and this fact will be reflected in the required report for 2020 that is due to be published by this coming June. To date, there has been no Protected Disclosure in 2021.

Tabular summary:

Year

No of Protected Disclosures

2016

Nil

2017

1

2018

1

2019

1

2020

nil

2021

nil to date

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