The Department of Justice’s annual protected disclosures report for 2018 shows that the vast majority of whistleblowing reports it received related to the Irish Prison Service – a whopping 11 out of 13, the Irish Examiner reports
The department said that, in addition to the 11 prison cases, the Prison Service itself received a further four protected disclosures in 2018.
In 2018, the department engaged the services of independent external assessors and investigators under the Office of Government Procurement Framework for Protected Disclosures.
“The external assessor determines if the disclosure meets the requirements of the Protected Disclosure Act,” the report said. “Where the requirements are met, the disclosure will be sent for an external investigation. The discloser will be informed of the findings of the assessment or the investigation process.”
In relation to disclosures received prior to 2018, the report said that, regardless of the outcome of the assessment, the process could highlight “an issue of concern or compliance”, and a recommendation could follow.
Two investigations in relation to cases received in 2017 were concluded in 2018. It said both of these related to the IPS, and that recommendations were made.
The report said: “The Irish Prison Service has indicated that the recommendations made have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.
In a separate report on protected disclosures sent directly to the Minster for Justice, the department said that three cases were received in 2018, all relating to the gardaí.
Of these, two were assessed by external counsel, with recommendations to refer the cases to GSOC.
A third disclosure was referred to the Garda Commissioner, prior to the establishment of a panel of external counsel, for investigation. It said that a report from the gardaí advised that there was “no substance” to the allegations made.