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Question

1387. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 150 and 151 of 25 March 2021, the number of potential protected disclosures made to the Irish Prison Service by staff in each of the years 2017 to 2020 and to date in 2021, which have been assessed as not a protected disclosure; the number closed following investigation; and the number which are ongoing investigations. [18371/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Overall responsibility for the policy and procedures of the Irish Prison Service Protected Disclosure Policy rests with the Director General. I am informed that in line with the Act, day-to-day responsibility for the policy and procedures is delegated to the Director of Corporate Services, or her/his nominee and day-to-day responsibility for the administration of the policy and procedures is delegated to the Protected Disclosures Manager, or her/his nominee.
As the Deputy may be aware, the Protected Disclosures Assessor is an independent, external expert appointed by the Irish Prison Service to conduct an assessment. I understand that when a disclosure of an alleged relevant wrongdoing is made, the Protected Disclosures Manager will arrange for the Protected Disclosures Assessor to undertake an initial assessment of the disclosure under these Procedures as soon as possible.
I am informed that this process involves an initial assessment of the disclosure to determine whether or not it should be treated as a protected disclosure, having regard to a number of relevant matters. If the Assessor concludes that the disclosure should be treated as a protected disclosure, the Protected Disclosures Manager will notify the worker who made the disclosure that an investigation will be undertaken by the External Investigator. Any allegations of wrongdoing deemed by the Assessor to be outside the scope of the Act are addressed or investigated under the appropriate process.
Since 2018 when the Irish Prison Service introduced its own Protected Disclosures Policy, a total of 22 allegations were received for detailed examination.
Of these 22 allegations of wrongdoing received, following examination by the independent Protected Disclosures Assessor:
- Nine did not require further external detailed assessment and were either transferred to be dealt with by a more appropriate body such as Garda Síochána, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons, or my Department, or were closed in preliminary stages.
- One further allegation was assessed as not being a protected disclosure and was closed.
- Seven protected disclosure investigations are now completed and closed.
- Five protected disclosure cases are ongoing.
A breakdown of the information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below:

Total 2018

4

Total 2019

8

Total 2020

9
Total 2021

1

-
0 0 1 - Allegation assessed as not being a protected disclosure
2 1 5 1 Allegations transferred to an appropriate body for investigation (An Garda Síochána, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons or the Department of Justice)
2 4 1 - Protected disclosure investigations completed and closed
0 3 2 - Protected disclosure investigations ongoing
Question No. 1388 answered with Question No. 1385. Question No. 1389 answered with Question No. 1373.