Protected Disclosures

Protected Disclosures

External Procedures for Making a Protected Disclosure to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Transport Authority (NTA)

Introduction

The NTA has in place External Procedures to support a Worker or reporting persons who wish to make a protected disclosure to the CEO of the NTA as a prescribed person in accordance with the provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 as amended by the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 hereafter referred to as ‘the Act’.

Under Section 7 of the Act and Statutory Instrument (S.I.) 367 of 2020 the CEO of the NTA is the Prescribed Person to receive disclosures of relevant wrongdoings as follows:

(a) All matters relating to the regulation of public transport services in the State, including the licensing of bus passenger services, the entering into of contracts for the provision of bus, light railway and railway services and the regulation of public transport fares.

(b) All matters relating to the regulation of small public service vehicles (within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (No. 24 of 1961))

Qualifying for Protection under the Protected Disclosures Act

To qualify for protection under the Protected Disclosures Act, a Worker or a reporting person, defined in the legislation and detailed in the Protected Disclosure Policy available above,  must make a protected disclosure in the manner set out in the Act and detailed in the Protected Disclosure Policy available above.

A protected disclosure is a disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of a Worker or a reporting person, tends to show one or more relevant wrongdoings; came to the attention of the Worker or a reporting person or a reporting person in a work-related context; and is disclosed in the manner prescribed in the Act.

When making a protected disclosure to a prescribed person, there are additional requirements.

The Worker or a reporting person  must reasonably believe that the matter reported falls within the area of responsibility of the prescribed person, is a relevant wrongdoing, as set out in the Act, and the information disclosed, and any allegation contained in it, are substantially true.

Contact Details

The contact details are:

Postal address: Chief Executive Officer
National Transport Authority
Dún Scéine
Harcourt Lane
Dublin D02 WT20
Phone: +353 1 879 8300
Email: ceo@nationaltransport.ie

 

Making a Report to the CEO of The Authority as a prescribed person

Reports to the CEO can be made in writing and orally. Once the CEO receives a report, they, or a person designated by them, will provide a written acknowledgment of receipt of the disclosure within 7 days, unless requested not to do so or to do so would jeopardise protection of the reporting person’s identity. The CEO may appoint a designated person(s) to handle reports received and this designation must be made in accordance with the standard policies and procedures that apply to the CEO as regards the delegation or assignment of duties and responsibilities to staff.

It is recommended that, at a minimum, reports should include the following details: –

  1. that the report is a protected disclosure and is being made under this Policy;
  2. the reporting person’s name, position in the organisation, place of work and confidential contact details;
  3. the date of the alleged wrongdoing (if known) or the date the alleged wrongdoing commenced or was identified;
  4. whether or not the alleged wrongdoing is still ongoing;
  5. whether the alleged wrongdoing has already been disclosed and if so, to whom, when, and what action was taken;
  6. information in respect of the alleged wrongdoing (what is occurring / has occurred and how) and any supporting information;
  7. the name of any person(s) allegedly involved in the alleged wrongdoing (if any name is known and the Worker or a reporting person considers that naming an individual is necessary to report the wrongdoing disclosed); and
  8. any other relevant information.

Assessment

An initial assessment must also be carried out by the CEO of the Authority as the prescribed person. The process shall include the following:

  • The carrying out of an initial assessment of whether there is prima facie evidence of relevant wrongdoing. Where there is no such evidence, the procedure will be closed (or the matter will be referred to an alternative, appropriate procedure) and the Worker or reporting person will be notified in writing as soon as practicable of this decision and the reasons for it;
  • The taking of appropriate action to address the relevant wrongdoing, having regard to the nature and seriousness of the matter concerned. The CEO may prioritise reports of serious relevant wrongdoing, if necessary and appropriate, having regard to the number of reports received by them;
  • Where necessary, terms of reference for an investigation will be put in place and the investigation will be commenced as soon as is practicable; and
  • Where a report concerns a breach of EU law, as provided for in the Act, the CEO of the Authority as a prescribed person must send the information to the relevant EU bodies as soon as practicable, for further investigation, where this is provided for under EU or Irish law.

In addition to the options available to the Authority following an initial assessment, a number of other options are open to the CEO:

  • As well as investigating whether or not a relevant wrongdoing may have occurred, the initial assessment should also examine whether the report falls within the scope of the matters for which the prescribed person has responsibility. If the report concerns matters which are outside the scope of the matters for which the prescribed person has responsibility, the report must be transmitted to the relevant prescribed person, or the Commissioner;
  • If the initial assessment shows that there is a relevant wrongdoing, but it is clearly minor and does not require further follow up, the matter can be closed;
  • If the initial assessment shows that the report does not contain any meaningful new information about a relevant wrongdoing compared to a past report where the procedures have been concluded, unless new legal or factual circumstances justify a different follow up, the matter can be closed.
Feedback

For the CEO of the Authority, as the prescribed person, the maximum time to provide feedback can be extended from three months up to six months after acknowledgement of the report, where it is justified due to the particular complexity of the report concerned. The reporting person will be informed of the decision to extend the time from three months to six months as soon as practicable.

Where the reporting person requests in writing that they wish to receive further feedback after the initial three-month (or six-month) interval period, then the CEO will do so at intervals of three months until the procedure is closed.

The CEO will provide the reporting person with information on final outcome of any investigations triggered by the report of the disclosure, subject to legal restrictions applying concerning confidentiality, legal privilege, privacy and data protection or any other legal obligation. This does not require the provision of the full investigation report.

Protection of Confidentiality

The NTA will protect the identities of both the reporting person and any person concerned who is referred to in the disclosure, in accordance with the provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of the Act.

The NTA will prevent access by unauthorised persons to personal data processed for the purposes of the Act and ensure it is only disclosed to authorised persons.

Certain data subject access rights under data protection law can be restricted to ensure complete protection of the identity of reporting persons and persons concerned and to prevent any efforts to impede, frustrate or slow down follow-up on reports received.

Protection of Disclosers against Penalisation

The Authority commits that penalisation of Workers or reporting persons who make a report will not be tolerated. If a Worker or a reporting person feels that penalisation has occurred, they should contact the Head of HR. The Head of HR will assess / investigate such notifications and take appropriate action. Anyone proven to be responsible for penalisation, or to have hindered (or sought to hinder) the making of a report, will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the Authority’s Disciplinary Procedure, up to and including dismissal. A claim for detriment may also be taken against such persons personally in the civil courts.

For the avoidance of doubt, reasonable disciplinary, investigative, performance management or other processes or actions which are unconnected with the making of a report do not amount to penalisation.

Complaints of penalisation will be handled by the HR function, unless this is inappropriate in the circumstances.

Independent Advice and Support

If an individual is considering making a protected disclosure or has already made a protected disclosure, independent advice and support is available from Transparency International Ireland and from Citizen’s Information. These services can be accessed using the following contact details:

Transparency International Ireland

Speak Up Helpline: 1800 844 866

Citizens Information:

Citizen’s Information Phone Service: 0818 07 4000

Protected Disclosures Commissioner: 01 639 5650

 Protected Disclosures Annual Report

Under section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 as amended by the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 the NTA must publish a report by 31 March each year in respect of the previous calendar year on the NTA website. The information is provided in such a way that it does not enable the identification of reporting persons or persons concerned.

The following information must be included:

  1. the number of reports made to the NTA;
  2. the number of reports transmitted to the NTA, as the case may be, under sections 7, 10B, 10C and 10D;
  3. in respect of each report referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b), whether the relevant wrongdoing concerned was a breach;
  4. the number of investigations and proceedings opened by the NTA in relation to the relevant wrongdoings concerned as a result of the reports referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b);
  5. the number of investigations and proceedings opened, in the years preceding the year in respect of which the report is being made, by the NTA in relation to the relevant wrongdoings concerned that remain open;
  6. the number of investigations and proceedings closed by the NTA in relation to the relevant wrongdoings concerned as a result of the reports referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b);
  7. in respect of each closed investigation or proceedings referred to in paragraph (f), the outcome of the investigation or proceedings and the decision taken by the NTA;
  8. where relevant and in so far as it can be ascertained, the estimated financial damage and the amounts recovered following any investigation and proceedings referred to in paragraph (f);
  9. such other information relating to the performance of the functions of the NTA, as the case may be under this Act, as may be requested by the Minister.

The NTA annual report for 2022 is available on the NTA website below.

Annual Protected Disclosures Report – 2022

The mechanism whereby NTA’s staff may raise concerns, or make disclosures in the public interest, in accordance with the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, is outlined in NTA’s Protected Disclosures Procedure. No disclosures were made in 2022 which could be construed as a Protected Disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.

2023-Section 22 Report Protected Disclosures

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