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Lessons from Reformers: Ireland

Lecciones de los Reformadores: Irlanda

Leçons à Tirer des Réformateurs : Irlande

World Newspapers

Shifting protections and culture about whistleblowers

Whistleblowers serve a critical social function by flagging neglect or abuses in the public and private sector. Having the right to speak out about alleged abuses–such as corruption or harassment–is essential for a safe environment and culture for everyone. However, these individuals need adequate protections and social acceptance to be able to fulfill this role.

Ireland used its national action plan (2014–2016) to begin to encourage, protect, and raise awareness about whistleblower duties and protections (as outlined under Ireland’s Protected Disclosures legislation). The law was passed in 2014 during the first year of the action plan and was developed in close cooperation with civil society. It has been considered among the most comprehensive whistleblowing laws in the European Union as it covers the reporting of abuses in all sectors of society.

Ireland’s inclusion of whistleblowing in its action plan was considered transformative and a starred commitment. An independent assessment of the plan classified it as being completed within two years and having an “outstanding” effect on opening up government. The government, through the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), worked with trade unions, CSOs and associations representing employers to carry out the commitment and pass legislation. The timing was optimal; a bill for whistleblowing legislation was just being discussed as the action plan was being developed.

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