Workers go to website and blow whistle on colleagues
MORE than a dozen potential whistleblowers have come forward following last month's launch of a new service dedicated to weeding out corporate and state corruption and unethical behaviour.
Since its launch on January 24, Risk Management International's (RMI) free confidential website --www.whistleblowerconfidential.ie -- has logged 19 tip-offs from workers reporting questionable practices by their colleagues.
They include claims of unethical conduct in a legal practice, two claims of questionable practices in financial institutions, one claim of corruption in a state agency and several claims of welfare fraud.
RMI's chief executive Cathal O'Neill, a former captain in the the Army's elite Ranger unit, started up the Dublin-based risk management consultancy in 1993.
It employs former Army officers and gardai to advise businesses of threats to their security and operations, including everything from corporate spying to tiger kidnappings.
He acknowledged that a certain number of reports to the website would be from cranks or disgruntled employees or those with a vendetta against someone.
But there were also credible tips that needed to be investigated, he said.
"We have to be careful that we don't get sucked in so we try to rule out cranks and disgruntled employees," he told the Irish Independent.
"We assess credibility and then send a letter to the institution where the complaint is being made and it's up to them to investigate it," he said.
"But we've already engaged with a lot of companies for corporate security work and we see it -- there's a lot of crime going on in organisations."
The lack of any whisteblower legislation here means that people who are aware of unethical, criminal or corrupt practices in their workplaces are often afraid to speak up out of fear of losing their jobs, he said.
Whistleblowers using the site are guaranteed anonymity and confidentiality. They can choose to communicate using a codeword or by leaving their personal details, he added.
And despite the historic aversion in the Irish psyche to "snitching", people are now more inclined to report wrongdoing, added RMI's chairman Peadar Duffy.
"Given our current economic plight and recent history, this has changed. People are now much more likely to come forward," he said.