Monday, June 27, 2011

Could Irish Red Cross Board members face criminal prosecution under proposed whistleblower legislation?

On Thursday 23rd June 2011 Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, carried a report on its flagship current affairs program, Prime Time, examining the issue of whistleblowing in Ireland and the lack of legal protection for whistleblowers. The context was the recent scandal at the Rostrevor nursing home which has been closed by the health authorities following reports from whistleblowers of widespread abuse of elderly patients.

On the panel discussion was Mr. John Devitt, CEO of Transparency International Ireland. For those not familiar with Transparency International it is a global organisation that fights corruption and abuse of power. Its views are listened to by people of influence and in high office around the world. Transparency International Ireland, has on two separate occasions, called for an independent investigation into the Irish Red Cross and has written to the Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the matter. Transparency International has also called for the reinstatement of Noel Wardick as Head of the International Department pending the results of such an independent investigation.

In the course of the RTE program Mr. Devitt not only said that comprehensive whistleblowing legislation was urgently required in Ireland he also insisted that any legislation should contain provisions which would allow criminal prosecutions to be taken against employers and individuals who retaliate against whistleblowers.

Reprisals and retaliation by employers against whistleblowers in Ireland have been and continue to be standard practice. Mr. Devitt was of the view that the ability to take a criminal prosecution against employers and individuals was absolutely necessary in order to protect whistleblowers who report in good faith abuse of power and misuse of resources and in order to encourage employees to report in the first place. The current situation allows employers operate with near impunity and the fear that results from this keeps the vast majority of employees silent.

This Blog welcomes the comments by Transparency International and fully supports the call that any whistleblowing legislation introduced contains provisions that will allow criminal prosecutions against employers and those individuals that retaliate against employees for speaking the truth.

If such legislation is finally introduced the mis-balance of power that currently exists within the Irish Red Cross may finally be corrected. Those board members who have overseen reprisals against staff or turned a blind eye will be forced to think twice in the future.

Should the provisions in the legislation advocated by Transparency International be adopted then it is entirely possible that in the not so distant future criminal prosecutions may be initiated against Irish Red Cross board members who have been involved in retaliatory action against whistleblowers.

The RTE Prime Time program can be viewed on:

http://www.rte.ie/news/av/2011/0623/media-2985710.html#

We have not sought war, nor do we seek war, but if war be made upon us we must defend ourselves and shall do so-Eamon de Valera in a letter to British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, 1921

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:49 AM

    GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS have been told to consider bold and even unpalatable measures such as rationalising grants and subsidies, abolishing agencies, charging for services and selling property as part of their proposals for saving money" -Monday, June 27, 2011 Irish Times.

    Is this what we are waiting for? 16 Merrion Square sold as it does not constitute a productive asset for the state. The Society's funding terminated as it does not properly report how it (mis)uses public finances? The property portfolio held exposed to see how much is there that is not accounted for in the accounting returns? The Head Office moved to a smaller more economical site, in an unused small office block outside Dublin which will benefit everyone? Roll on the accountability! Maybe, just maybe, the day of reckoning for the Irish Red Cross is not far away. Dare we hope?

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  2. Everything should be investigated. It doesn't matter if they are board members or else. Call Ireland.

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  3. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Henry Dunant envisaged an organisation which would be Impartial and Neutral and there to provide assistance in times of need. Would someone please tell me how exactly the Irish Red Cross fulfilled this role during the troubles in Ireland. Well, they did provide assistance to Capt. Kelly, but that was used it is said, to buy guns! What else were they upto?

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  4. Anonymous12:43 AM

    They Government will seek to withdraw Education to many rural families this year, whilst maintaining the status quo of corruption within the Irish Red Cross. The state could save millions by making the Irish Red Cross truly voluntary, as it should be. This does not mean removing its financial commitment to overseas and disaster aid. It means removing the fancy 4 x 4 that some swan about in and the expenses to many paid volunteers. Who could possibly object to that ?

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  5. Anonymous5:50 AM

    Its good to see that parliamentary questions continue to be asked in the Dail (Thursday 23rd June).

    The Minister says he will meet with the Chairman and Secretary General of the IRC shortly. Why doesnt he meet the Vice Chairman and Treasurer? They are the ones with the questions to answer and the ones who need to explain to him why they havent resigned.

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  6. Anonymous6:01 AM

    That leaked letter from the Department of Public Expenditure should send fear into the Irish Red Cross. If the Office of Public Works, who own 16 Merrion Square, decide to sell the building then the Irish Red Cross would be forced to move and rent a premises. This would cost them a fortune and would be a new expense for them as the OPW give them 16 Merrion square for free.

    Where would the new location be? Tipperary maybe as then 'you know who' would have total control and would be able to ensure the rebellious troops like Wardick and co stop getting out of line. The name could be changed to the Irish Red Cross Tipperary First Aid Organisation!

    So it might not be only government departments that decentralise. The Irish red Cross could be on its way to the regions as well!!

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  7. Anonymous6:06 AM

    The only political party in Dail Eireann never to ask parliamentary questions about the rot within the Irish Red Cross is Sinn Fein.

    I wonder is the reason for this because they are thankful and appreciative of the Irish Red Cross efforts in 1970 assisting Charlie Haughey transfer £100,000 through Irish Red Cross bank accounts to fund the establishment of the IRA?

    Read the Arms Trial Court transcripts its all there in the court proceedings.

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  8. Anonymous6:13 AM

    Let me get this right. The Irish government cuts the number of special needs assistants in schools, cuts allowances to carers, cuts social welfare payments to the unemployed, the elderly and the disabled, increases class sizes, stops recruitment of new Gardai for three years and slashes health care budgets but NOT A SINGLE PENNY is taken off the government grant to the Irish Red Cross, an organisation with serious questions to answer around integrity and financial irregularities.

    There is no doubt the €1 million wasted scandalously on the Irish Red Cross could not be put to better use supporting people and organisations truly deserving of it. Maybe it has taken a terrible recession to wake the government up but now is the time to use tax payers money effectively and stop wasting it on organisations with a very dubious history. There is no justification to not slash or cancel the government grant to the Irish Red Cross.

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  9. Anonymous7:21 AM

    Dear Noel,

    Its essential that we start a database for publication on this Blog with everyones name and posts they hold so we can all learn who exactly is on what committee and who is eating out of whos pocket. The time has come that members are limited to the amount of posts they hold in the IRC from Branch level all the way to the top. Many areas have officers holding 3 to 5 different posts causing an elitist opinion from the area. Call on all our Blog followers to send you names and posts held so you can publish same and then we will see a clear idication of the structure which allows the top guns to remain in their cosy posts.

    Noel your efforts are a credit to you keep up the good work and lets get the blog followers to email you the info so you can publish a comprehensive list of everyone from the ground up who are holding more posts than they should and hope to start change and introduce equality to all members.

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  10. Anonymous3:29 AM

    On Wednesday 29th June 2011 there was an Adjournment Debate in Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) on the continuing problems at the Irish Red Cross.

    Labour Party (member of coalition government) deputy Aodhán O Riordáin made an excellent speech outlining the 20 year crisis at the Irish Red Cross. He raised numerous issues including abuse of power, financial irregularities and in pacticular the excessive length of service of certain board members. He called for government funding to the Irish Red Cross to be suspended until a full independent investigation takes place.

    Minister for Justice and Defence, Alan Shatter, responded to Deputy O' Riordáin. While the Minister issued the standard civil servant drafted reply in parts he did, however, go much further than his predecessors and this is to be welcomed and acknowledged. It is clear from his responses that he and the Government have very serious issues with the long service of certain board members. The Minister informed the parliament that on 16th May 2011 he wrote to the Irish Red Cross asking them that they address the issue of long service members. 12 days after receiving this letter the Irish Red Cross gave the Minister his answer. They re-appointed Tony Lawlor and Ted Noonan, which flew in the face of the Minister's request. It is quite incredulous that the Irish Red Cross would ignore a specific request from a high ranking government minister in such an arrogant and egotistic manner. One can only imagine the reaction of the Minister. The Minister stated the Irish Red Cross funding for 2012 is under review. Perhaps the Minister will use the funding as the tool to express his displeasure.

    Another question that must be asked is why the Central Council members were NOT informed about the Minister's May 16th letter? This letter was not shared with CC members and perhaps if they were aware that the Minister had formally requested they address the issue of long service members they would not have re-appointed Tony Lawlor and Ted Noonan and thereby avoid the possible ire of the Minister.

    The Examiner newspaper of 30th June 2011 carrys an article under the heading "Minister Shatter seeks assurances on Irish Red Cross funding".

    Link is:

    http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/shatter-seeks-assurances-on-red-cross-spending-159485.html

    The full Dail debate will be up on the Blog once the parliament publishes it.

    Noel Wardick

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