Learn about the protective legal framework for protected disclosures in Ireland through this Diploma in Whistleblowing.

CPD Hours
Recognised by The Institute of Banking and LIA for CPD Purposes


Course Content

The Diploma in Whistleblowing is delivered through 10 lectures. These lectures are as follows;

Lecture 1 – Winds of Change: Introduction of Whistleblower Legislation

The Basics:

  • What is “whistleblowing”?
  • Why is it important?
  • Why do whistleblowers need protection?

Pre-Protected Disclosures Position:

  • Sectoral Approach
  • Gaps

Winds of Change:

  • Developments in the UK
  • Initial attempt to bring in Protective Legislation
  • Recommendations of Mahon Tribunal, Nyberg Report etc.
  • Whistleblowers on the National Stage
  • Overview of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014
  • Application
  • Overview of provisions

Lecture 2 – Whistleblowing: Protected Disclosures

Who can make a Protected Disclosure?

What is a Protected Disclosure?

  • Relevant Information
  • Retrospective and Extra-territorial Effect
  • Significance of Motive

Stepped Procedure for Disclosure

  • Disclosure to Employer or other Responsible Person
  • Disclosure to Prescribed Person
  • Disclosure to Minister
  • Disclosure to Legal Adviser
  • Disclosure in other cases

Relevant case studies

Lecture 3 – Whistleblower Protections for Protected Disclosures

Protection from Dismissal

  • Unfair Dismissal under Unfair Dismissals Act
  • Interim relief pending Claim for Unfair Dismissal

Protection from Penalisation

  • What is penalisation?
  • Complaint to Workplace Relations Commission

Tort Action for suffering Detriment

  • What is “detriment”?
  • Requirement to elect cause of action

Protection from Civil Liability

  • Protection from Civil Liability
  • Possibility of Defamation Action

Protection from Criminal Liability

  • Defence to criminal prosecution


  • General rule
  • Exceptions
  • Right of action

Relevant case studies

Lecture 4 – Whistleblowing – Special Cases

Law Enforcement

  • Circumstances where not a protected disclosure
  • Prescribed Person

Security, Defence, International Relations and Intelligence

  • Circumstances where not a protected disclosure
  • Disclosures Recipient

Amendments of Garda Síochána Act 2005

  • Disclosures by members of An Garda Síochána
  • Ombudsman Commission

Amendment of Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004

  • Disclosures by members of the Defence Forces
  • Ombudsman for the Defence Forces

Relevant case studies

Lecture 5 – Whistleblowing Obligations on Public Service Employers etc.

• Protected Disclosure Policy

  • Requirement
  • “Protected Disclosure” Policy and “Grievance” Policy distinguished
  • Guidance on how to draft such a policy
  • Implementation

Annual Reports

  • Requirement
  • Selection of Reports

Prohibition of contracting out of protections

  • General position
  • Legislative provision

Protections in other Enactments

  • Preservation of protection
  • Amendments

Relevant case studies

Lecture 6 – Wooing the Would-Be Whistleblower or Waging a War: Incentives and Disincentives

Incentivising Whistleblowing

  • Rationale
  • Various Types of Incentive (e.g. immunity from penalisation and prosecution, financial incentives)
  • Critique

Deterring Whistleblowing

  • Role of Confidentiality
  • Role of Copyright
  • Role of Data-Protection
  • Role of Defamation

Relevant case studies

Lecture 7 – Mandatory Reporting

“Mandatory Reporting” and “Whistleblowing” distinguished

Rationale for Mandatory Reporting

Various Legal Provisions:

  • Taxes Consolidation Act 1997
  • Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998
  • Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
  • Criminal Justice Act 2011
  • Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012
  • Companies Acts


Relevant case studies

Lecture 8 – Private Employers: The Case for a Whistleblower Policy

Impact of Protected Disclosures Legislation

Risk of corporate fraud/crime

  • Cause
  • Prevalence
  • Impacts

Internal whistle-blowing

  • Role in prevention
  • Role in detection
  • Role in resolving

Advantages of Policy

  • Encourages Employees
  • Contributes to Ethical Culture
  • Signals Corporate Responsibility

Disadvantages of Policy

  • Potential Misuse
  • Need for Resources

Relevant case studies

Lecture 9 – A Selection of Ireland’s Most Famous Whistleblower

An Garda Síochána; e.g. Maurice McCabe, John Wilson

Healthcare; e.g. Áras Attracta Whistleblowers

Defence Forces; Tom Clonan

Financial Sector; Eugene McErlean (AIB)

Lecture 10 – Whistle-Blowing on the International Stage

International Initiatives:

  • United Nations
  • European Union
  • Council of Europe

Common Law Initiatives

  • UK
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • US

Whistle-Blowers on the International Stage



Andrew McKeown

Andrew McKeown is a practising barrister, having studied in UCD, where he was Swift McNeill Scholar. In addition to the Barrister-at-Law Degree, he holds a B.A. in History and English, and a Masters in Common Law. Andrew practises in criminal law, judicial review, and general common law. He has worked on all levels of criminal cases, including murder trials. Andrew has edited leading legal books, journals and Westlaw, and he is the Editor of the Irish Current Law Monthly Digest.

Diploma in Whistleblowing Assessment

A pass grade on the written assignment will be required for awarding of the Diploma.

The assignment/project must be handed in on the due date unless a sound reason for lateness is provided. In such instances, an extension may be awarded at the discretion of the lecturer.

If paying in instalments by direct debit, the deposit to book a place is €150 and the balance is split into three equal monthly payments.

Tara’s material is well prepared and she is very knowledgeable on the subject matter.  She presents the class in a professional manner while maintaining good approachability.  She is excellent at encouraging class discussion around what is a very interesting subject.

Tony Coughlan

Who Should Apply for this Diploma?

This Diploma in Whistleblowing is perfect for;

  • People working in Human Resources including HR Consultants, Managers, Advisors and Assistants.  
  • Those working in Industrial Relations providing representation and advice to employers and/or employees.  
  • Those working in the Public and Private Sectors including employers, managers and employees.

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Diploma in Whistleblowing and Protected Disclosures (Classroom)

Classroom Diploma in Whistleblowing and Protected Disclosures


6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Andrew McKeown


Diploma in Whistleblowing and Protected Disclosures (Online)

Online Diploma in Whistleblowing and Protected Disclosures


6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Andrew McKeown