26 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: Changes to follow whistle-blowing review

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The Northern Ireland Public Service plans to learn from a review of how officials deal with concerns raised in an Industrial Tribunal.

This follows the case of Tamara Bronckaers, a whistle-blower vet who worked for the Department of Agriculture and Environment.

Dr Bronckaers (pictured) had raised concerns over animal welfare and the deletion of cattle movements at some livestock markets which were not acted on.

Later, a 2021 Industrial Tribunal found she had been “constructively dismissed”.

Dr Bronckaers received a £1.25 million ($A2.9 million) settlement from the Department, along with an unreserved apology.

The Public Service then ordered an independent review into the handling of the case.

Head of the Public Service, Jayne Brady said a 33-point action plan had been published in response to that review.

“We will implement each of the actions to ensure there is greater confidence that we are delivering the best possible service for the public and our workforce,” Ms Brady said.

She said the review by PWC had highlighted issues in the recording and escalating of concerns, the application of some policies, and the way in which employment-related legal cases were managed by the Public Service.

A new Raising a Concern Policy Framework had been published for Departments “setting out, for the first time, a single, overarching approach to dealing with concerns raised”.

“Concerns must always be raised, listened to and acted upon in the proper manner,” Ms Brady said.

“It is critical that every Civil Servant maintains proper records and that all policies are up-to-date,” she said.

“These are the foundations of good governance.”

Belfast, 27 January 2023

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