ICTU Demands Protection for Workers Who Blow the Whistle

18 Jan 2010

Unlike most other countries in Europe and the US, Ireland is dragging its feet when it comes to putting in place comprehensive legal protection for whistleblowers. Whether its corruption in local planning or illegality and malpractice in our financial institutions, workers are consistently afraid to come forward because of the fear of negative legal consequences and reprisals from their employers.

Legal protection for whistleblowers is a crazy quilt of hit or usually miss protections generally tucked away into obscure sections of specific laws, and the civil liability laws mean that some people may actually be penalised and held personally liable if they came forward. The lack of any legal protection against persecution means that whistleblowers are subject to reprisals which can be devastating in terms of their careers and livelihoods.

Welcoming the publication of Transparency International's report "An Alternative to Silence - Protecting whistleblowers in Ireland, Esther Lynch, Congress Legislation and Social Affairs Officer outlined that "without legal protection whistleblowers can be subject to intense victimisation at work, demoted, dismissed, or pressured to resign; their positions abolished or transferred. Workers report that they are isolated, physically and personally; and often subjected to 'white walling' where they are put into an office with no work at all, others are subjected to constant scrutiny and given impossible tasks to perform, while others face threats and disciplinary actions; subject to internal inquiries, adverse reports and all sorts of other legal threats". A common outcome for whistleblowers is to resign because of ill health caused by the victimisation. It is understandable then that many workers often decide to keep quiet about their concerns rather than report them.

The government have promised to introduce protection for whistle blowers on a couple of occasions now but vested interests keep stalling its introduction. Workers calls for protection cannot be ignored any longer. Secrecy is a breeding ground for corruption and sunlight is the best disinfectant. We are calling on government to introduce a robust set of legal rights, to protect workers in the public or private sector, so that they can disclose and report matters such as malpractice, misconduct, the violation of laws, rules, regulations, damage to health, safety or environment concerns, corruption and fraud and the 'cover up' of these Employees who report wrongful conduct by their employers must be protected from reprisals.


For further information contact:

Esther Lynch,

Congress Legislation & Social Affairs Officer Ph: 087 2857687

Ph: 087 2222401



Michael Halpenny

Ph: 087 2857687