Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 22 September 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach
General Scheme of the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2021: Discussion
What also struck me about this is that sending a protected disclosure to a Department that could have been involved, or could have an overview of the difficulties that have arisen, is in itself problematic. Everybody knows if you ask an organisation to investigate itself, it will not do an independent job. An external investigation is the best way to make sure things are investigated properly. In addition, I do not have as much confidence in elected representatives as some of the witnesses. I honestly believe many Ministers are captured by, and very dependent on, their Departments. I spoke to a Fine Gael Minister once who told me he was surrounded by a dozen people with degrees and master's degrees who had worked in the Department for more than 25 years; he was told in a hundred and one ways why things could not happen, etc.
My instinct on this has always been that we should have a permanent office within the State with experienced resourced individuals whose only job is to investigate difficulties happening within the State, right up to commissions of investigation. We know there are commissions of investigation that have been ongoing for years, are costing the State heaps of money and are never really getting to the heart of the problem. If that office or group could have the ability not just to make a determination but to make sure reform is implemented on the back of the protected disclosure, would that be a more effective and efficient way of achieving justice for the author of a protected disclosure?