Irish Red Cross whistleblower Noel Wardick to appeal decision to sack him

THE Irish Red Cross whistleblower whose anonymous blog made allegations about financial irregularities at the charity has been sacked.
Noel Wardick, who was forced to out himself as the author of the blog after legal moves by the IRC, was informed by two board members that he has been found guilty of ‘gross misconduct’ and has been summarily dismissed.
The action follows his admission that he was the IRC employee behind the blog that had raised issues about the way the charity was run.
As a result he was suspended and a disciplinary action was taken against him.
Last night he said: ‘I intend to appeal the decision to sack me. Like every other whistleblower in this country, I have lost my job and found myself being persecuted.
‘I tried to do everything I could to raise issues internally, but I was never satisfied that these issues were dealt with properly. As a result, I went public.’
Mr Wardick, who is head of the charity’s international department section, came forward as the author of the blog after the charity started legal proceeding against Google and UPC to track down the authors.
The blog had called for intervention by the government – which appoints 16 of the 42 members who sit on the charity’s central council –  to deal with issues at the charity.
One of the biggest issues revealed online was an undeclared Tipperary bank account containing E162,000.
The charity’s failure to have the account declared was later blamed on an ‘administrative error’.
The IRC had taken internet service provider UPC to the High Court and an order of discovery was granted.
The information passed on showed Mr Wardick was the likely author of an anonymous email sent to Irish Red Cross members alerting them to the blog.
Despite outing himself, the IRC has continued with its legal action against Google because it wants to find out the identity of people who posted anonymous messages on Mr Wardick’s blog in response to the 50-odd articles he has posted there.
A spokesman for the charity said last month it was continuing to pursue legal action because the blog published ‘internal confidential material’ which was ‘wilfully distorted and misconstrued’.
He added: ‘The charity is taking all appropriate legal action to obtain proof of the identities of posters to the blog.’
Mr Wardick, who joined the charity just over five years ago, was suspended on full pay on August 3.
By August 25, he was asked to return to the charity for a full disciplinary hearing which was attended by lawyers for both sides and two board members.
Mr Wardick said last night: ‘It was cordial enough. I have nothing personal against the two board members who held that meeting.’
Two weeks later, he was found guilty of gross misconduct.
Although he attempted to appeal the decision, he was informed that he could only lodge an appeal against the sanction.
And last Tuesday, he was duly informed he was being sacked.
He now has until next Wednesday to appeal this decision – which he fully intends doing.
Mr Wardick said last night: ‘There is a fundamental problem with the whole process.
‘And in my view, there is a breach of basic natural justice here in that the accused is investigating the accuser.
‘There needs to be an independent investigation into the way this charity is run.’
Last night, Fine Gael’s defence spokesman David Syanton TD said that  despite possessing detailed proposals for reform at the IRC, the Minister for Defence – who appoints a representative to the executive committee – has still failed to act.
‘Following lengthy considerations, the Irish Red Cross published detailed governance reform proposals for their own organisation last year,’ he said.
‘These proposals were supplied to the Minister for Defence in January 2010. Despite intense media coverage of the need for reform within the Red Cross, 10 months on nothing has happened.
‘I can only deduce that the proposals are still sitting on his desk.
‘I deplore the Minister’s reticence for reform in the Red Cross.
‘It is obvious that the Red Cross needs an updated governance structure, its thousands of volunteers across the country deserve
this.  I want to see public confidence in the Red Cross being maintained and enhanced.
‘The Minister’s stalling must stop, he must act now to bring in governance reforms at the Red Cross.’
And he added that Mr Wardick’s situation yet again highlights the need for greater whistleblower protection.
He said: ‘The Government must also, in light of recent events in the Red Cross, introduce whistleblower legislation.  This legislation, if properly drafted, would benefit both whistleblowers and other individuals or organisations against whom allegations of mismanagement or misconduct would be made.
‘People should be facilitated to come forward and draw attention to issues of genuine concern in the workplace or in organisations.
‘Clear procedures should be in place to allow whistleblowers to act and to have their claims to be investigated in a transparent way.
‘Such procedures would protect both whistleblowers and other involved parties.’

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