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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Barry Clifford: Whistleblowers Better Be Seen And Heard

Whistleblowers are a special breed in any organisation. They are the mavericks and unsung heroes of any age for without them the little protection left that is afforded the universal citizen will be lost. The penalty for their actions can be very severe starting with those closest to them heading for the hills when all seems over for only popular vindication is ever lauded on winners and then only barely. Whistleblowers can lose their lives too and many have in very suspicious circumstances.

Take the phone hacking scandal still raging in England. The whistleblower in that story was found dead in 2011 age 47. He was not the first to die during this very dangerous work as a whistleblower nor will he be the last.

In America it was during the revolutionary war against England when they enacted the first whistleblowers act to protect two naval officers who blew the proverbial whistle against one of their own: Commodore Esek Hopkins, who they accused of torturing British POW’s. The sacrifices since of men of their character has been long and as equal to the misery of injustices heaped upon them for their brave and lonely actions. Without them in the front line, who then will protect the citizen from the monolith of power, privilege and injustice. Who?

In Ireland, one lone battle of whistleblowing has been championed by Garda Sergeant Maurice Mc Cabe. He exposed the wink wink culture of the penalty point system almost singlehandedly where law really does not apply to the vast and fortunate few.  Has he been rewarded for his action yet? No, only vilified. There is more to come yet which will make the penalty points fiasco seem like school pranks, and on that I know to be true. Yet, Maurice is now a policemen in all but name, reduced in rank effectively to that of security guard of the Garda Canteen so no one will steal the biscuits. But the brief solace that has broken through the clouds against all the odds and forms of Shatter and Callinan will not abate now, and for that we must be grateful.

The inertia of Government to change systems that are fundamentally flawed, corrupt, and immoral is deliberate and one that does not save us but them when they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Things do change sometimes, and the only encouragement in that direction is, despite the IMF leaving our shores, a corrupt government can only survive in an economy that has a future. The demand for change will still clamor but not as loudly in that case but as long as our only success story since the crash of 2008 remains with our ability to borrow money rather than create wealth and an equal distribution of it, the people will demand and ultimately get change one way or the other.

For now, Garda Sergeant Maurice Mc Cabe should have earned our eternal appreciation and the many more like him. All whistleblowers should be seen and heard so we can be seen and heard too.

By Barry Clifford