Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Dara Calleary TD has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Justice that the Cabinet has approved the provision of whistleblower protection in the Criminal Justice Bill 2011.

Deputy Calleary said: “This move by the Government will strengthen the Bill and further restore public confidence.  It is essential that the Gardaí have all necessary provisions in law to deal with white collar crimes, as such crimes can have a devastating business and economic impact.”

“The new Government has said it intends to bring forward wider protections for whistleblowers in other areas but I think it is important that this provision is being made in the Criminal Justice Bill now before it is passed by the Dáil ahead of the summer recess.”

“Section 19 of the Bill deals with the withholding of information and provides for a maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment for those convicted.  However the section also proposes strong legal protection for people who do come forward with information relating to white collar crimes or those responsible for them.”

“It has been widely respected that one of the main blockages to people coming forward with such information is the fear that they will lose their job or be punished in the workplace.  The strongest possible employment protection for these workers is the only way to ensure more people speak out.  I welcome the Minister’s efforts in this regard.

Deputy Calleary concluded: “As a former Minister for Labour Affairs I know the provision whereby an employee, who has brought issues to the attention of the authorities but suffers as a result in the workplace, will be able to seek redress from a Rights Commissioner and if necessary from the Labour Court is extremely important.”