What is a Protected Disclosure?

A protected disclosure is a reporting of information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker, shows one or more relevant wrongdoings which came to the attention of the worker in a work-related context and is disclosed in the manner set out in the 2014 Act, as amended.

Protected Disclosures Legislation 

There are legal protections against penalisation for reporting persons or 'whistleblowers' in Ireland.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 sets out how wrongdoing can be reported by workers and how reporting persons are to be protected from penalisation.

The 2014 Act was amended by the Protected Disclosures Amendment Act 2022 which revised obligations for employers and prescribed persons.

Who does the legislation apply to?

The Protected Disclosures Acts apply to workers in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

What are considered ‘relevant wrongdoings’?

There are nine 'relevant wrongdoings' covered by the Acts. They are:

  • Criminal offences
  • Failure to comply with a legal obligation (other than your contract of employment)
  • Miscarriage of justice
  • Endangerment of health and safety
  • Damage to the environment
  • Unlawful or improper use of public funds
  • Oppressive, discriminatory or negligent behaviour by a public body
  • Breaches of EU law
  • Concealing or destroying evidence of wrongdoing

How can disclosures be made to Longford County Council?

Disclosures can be made either:

  1. Externally to a prescribed person, or
  2. Internally to the worker’s employer.

A worker who makes a disclosure is described as a 'reporting person'. They must make a report in the manner set out in the Act to gain the protections of the Act.

Higher standards apply when the protected disclosure report is made through external reporting channels.

Who are prescribed persons?

Longford County Council's Chief Executive is the Council’s prescribed person. 

Prescribed persons are designated to receive disclosures from workers of relevant wrongdoings. These relevant wrongdoings must fall within the prescribed person's range of responsibility.

Prescribed persons include heads or senior officials of bodies involved in the supervision or regulation of certain sectors of the economy or society. A list of prescribed persons can be found at gov.ie's List of Prescribed Persons

How to make an external disclosure to a prescribed person?

External disclosures can be made to the prescribed person, Longford County Council's Chief Executive by completing the Protected Disclosure reporting form.

External disclosures can also be made orally by phone: 043 334 33 54. This is a dedicated phone number. 

The Longford County Council: Policy and Procedure on Protected Disclosures - External Reporting outlines this external process for making a protected disclosure to the prescribed person. This policy and procedure is in line with the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, as amended by the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022. Longford County Council has a separate policy and procedure for workers to make disclosures internally.

What conditions apply to a disclosure made to a prescribed person?

The following conditions apply to a disclosure made to a prescribed person:

  • The matter being reported on must have come to the attention of the reporting person in a work-related context
  • The reporting person must have a reasonable belief that the information disclosed shows a relevant wrongdoing
  • The reporting person must have a reasonable belief that the information disclosed,and any allegation contained in it, are substantially true

How are disclosures dealt with by Longford County Council?   

Disclosures are handled by a designated person appointed by Longford County Council Chief Executive. They are handled confidentially and follow the Council's Policy and Procedure on Protected Disclosures - External Reporting.

The Chief Executive has appointed the Senior Officer for Corporate Services as the Council’s designated person for receiving and handling protected disclosures made to them by workers through the external channels for reporting.

Data Protection

Most if not all, protected disclosures may involve the processing of personal data. 

Personal data will be processed following applicable data protection law and the Council’s Privacy Policy.

It is important to note that some restrictions apply to the rights of data subjects under data protection law for the purposes of the Protected Disclosures Acts.

Withdrawal of a Protected Disclosure

Once a protected disclosure is made in accordance with the Acts, it is not possible for a reporting person to withdraw the disclosure.

Reporting persons are legally required to cooperate with a prescribed person to such extent as may reasonably and lawfully be required for the purposes of the Protected Disclosures Acts.

Where cooperation is withdrawn or the reporting person seeks to withdraw a protected disclosure, public bodies and prescribed persons are still required to comply with the provisions of the Acts, to the greatest extent possible.

Anonymous disclosures

There is a distinction between an anonymous disclosure (where identity is withheld by the reporting person) and confidential disclosures (where identity is protected by the recipient).

Anonymous disclosures will be acted upon to the extent that is possible while recognising that Longford County Council may be restricted in its ability to investigate the matter in the absence of the knowledge of the identity of the reporting person.

Where the anonymous report contains enough information to allow an initial assessment that there is prima facie evidence that relevant wrongdoing has occurred, follow-up action will be taken by Longford County Council to the extent that is possible from the information provided.

Further Advice and Support

Grant funding is provided by the Department of Public Expenditure to Transparency International Ireland (TII) for the provision of a free Speak Up Helpline and Legal Advice Centre to assist workers who have made a protected disclosure or are considering making a protected disclosure.

Further information and contact details can be obtained from the TII website.

Support and advice may also be available to workers who are members of a trade union.

Further information can also be found on gov.ie

Protected Disclosures Reporting

The Council shall prepare and publish by March 31 each year a report on their website in respect of the immediately preceding calendar year containing:

  1. A statement confirming that the Council and prescribed person have in place either or both of the following:
    1. internal reporting channels and procedures.
    2. external reporting channels and procedures, and
  2. The information provided to the Minister by the Council as required under subsection 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 as amended.

Protected Disclosures Annual Reports

In accordance with Section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act, Longford County Council must report on the number of protected disclosures made to the Council in the preceding year. In line with these requirements, take a look at Longford County Council Protected Disclosures Annual Reports.