‘Change of culture’ needed for whistleblowers’, say staff in dispute with UL

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

Persons B and C believe a ‘change of culture’ is needed for whistleblowers

Persons B and C believe a ‘change of culture’ is needed for whistleblowers

MECHANISMS to protect whistleblowers need to be improved, according to the two members of the UL finance department who have been in dispute with the university for more than three years.

Both Persons B and C believe a “change in culture” is needed to protect those who come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. 

Their story, which was first reported in the Limerick Leader in September 2015, was the catalyst for a number of reports into different matters at UL.

“For me, I don’t feel there are enough mechanisms to protect whistleblowers, in the format that is currently there,” Person C said. 

They were speaking a week after the publication of the Charleton Report, which focused on the treatment of Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe. 

“We have our good days and we have our bad days but how Sgt McCabe did it on his own, that’s a huge credit to the man,” Person B said. 

The legislation to protect whistleblowers, first introduced in 2014, hasn’t been properly tested yet, she added. 

“I think there needs to something put in place to meet with people who have spoken out to ask how their experience was and see how they could learn from that and do things better,” Person C said. 

“We’re in a climate of trying to mind our mental health and people are talking about speaking out - but if you do that and you are met with retaliation, it has the potential to shut a person down.” 

“You see messages saying things like ‘tell somebody, tell your family, tell your friends’ but we’ve done that in regards to our situation and we’re still not being heard.” 

“Why would you want to speak out when you are so fearful of a negative reaction from a person, or persons? It's a conflicting message for people who have spoken out and been hit with retaliation.”

An increased effort also needs to be made to meet whistleblowers in person, Person B believes. 

“I feel we should have been asked to come up and meet people in a private capacity.” 

“They were only seeing our voice as an email - and not everything can be portrayed in writing.”

“When you see a person, you know where they are coming from.” 

Separately, the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) has drafted a special report into the findings of an internal audit carried out at UL, which found that the university provided inaccurate or incomplete information to several government bodies.

The report was received by the Department of Education on August 1. 

The findings are expected to be presented within the coming weeks.