Legislation needed to protect whistleblowers
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid-West, Derek Keating, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the reinstatement by the Irish Advocacy Network, of Louise Bayliss, whose contract had recently been terminated following media appearances she made detailing the conditions of some patients at St. Brendan’s Hospital, Grangegorman, where she worked.
“From the outset I have condemned the treatment of Louise Bayliss who lost her job having brought to people’s attention the plight of mental health patients who were due to be moved to a locked unit at St Brendan’s Hospital over Christmas. Following a number of meetings with Louise, I had requested that the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children invite Louise to address the Committee as soon as the Chairman could accommodate her to discuss the issue of advocacy in our social and health services.
“As I have stated publicly, I have written to the Ministers for Health and Mental Health seeking redress for the treatment of Louise Bayless. I very much welcome the fact that Louise has now been reinstated. I will now press for the enactment of whistleblower legislation which is needed to protect people like Louise.*
“I am asking the Minister for Expenditure and Reform to consider introducing a protocol for all public sector workers and public sector agencies regarding standards in service provision with protection. It is widely believed that the cessation of Ms Bayliss’ position is directly linked to her having brought to public attention the treatment of the patients at Grangegorman. Her reinstatement raises more questions.
“It is deeply regrettable that an employee could lose his or her position for having spoken out on behalf of vulnerable and voiceless individuals. How many more comparable situations are out there? How many good, honest workers are being treated in this way?
“Fine Gael rightly identified the need for whistleblower legislation and committed to introducing it in the Programme for Government as part of our political reform agenda. I understand that the legislation takes time to prepare and to put into law, but this case underscores the pressing for action in this area. The legislation is due to be completed this year and I would urge the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, whose remit the legislation comes under, to advance it as a matter of priority. In the meantime I am calling on him to introduce a protection protocol to ensure the fair treatment of all public sector staff.”
*Derek Keating has tabled a priority debate (topical question) for today Tuesday 24th January.