40. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will consider including currently serving whistleblowers in any possible follow-on investigation, following the initial report and review relating to two protected disclosures (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40425/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy is aware, following advice received from the Attorney General, I appointed Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill to undertake a review of certain protected disclosures which were made to me. In essence, Judge O’Neill was asked to review allegations of wrongdoing contained in the disclosures; to make whatever inquiries he considered appropriate in relation to the review and to report on the conclusion of his review, including any recommendations which he considered necessary in relation to any further action which may be appropriate and warranted to address the allegations.
Judge O'Neill was initially due to report by 23 November. However, he subsequently sought two short extensions, which I granted. He delivered his report on 7 December 2016.
The report sets out in detail the allegations contained in the protected disclosures and his recommendations. The House will appreciate, notwithstanding receipt of the Report of Mr Justice O'Neill, that we are still dealing with protected disclosures and as such I must be very careful in relation to the identity of the persons who made those disclosures. This fact, and the fact that the report specifies the nature of the allegations and refers to third parties, means that I must be very careful to respect the rights of those who made the disclosures and of those third parties. Having read the Report, I have sought the advice of the Attorney General on how to proceed in relation to it, including the question of what material might be put in the public domain about it. When that advice is received, I will bring forward proposals to Government on the next steps.
I will not be in a position to make any decisions about the report until I have received the advice of the Attorney General and, accordingly, no decisions have been taken yet in relation to what actions might be taken arising from it. It may be helpful to inform the Deputy that I did receive requests to extend Mr Justice O'Neill's review to cover the cases of other persons who had been involved in making protected disclosures. I indicated that Mr. Justice O'Neill had been asked to look at two very specific disclosures and the review was not intended to look at general issues relating to whistleblowers. In the circumstances, the question of including those cases in the review did not arise. In considering the action to be taken in response to the report, obviously I will have to be guided by the findings and recommendations in relation to what further action might be necessary.