Public Affairs Ireland | Training and Development | Conferences

On Friday, 28 September 2018, Public Affairs Ireland hosted the first conference in our new series of CPD Compliance events. PAI welcomed delegates to the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Dublin 8, serving coffee and pastries on arrival.  This series of compliance conferences have been specially tailored towards the continuous professional development needs of legal professionals, in particular those that hold a position within the Public Sector. While the conference topics were taken from a legal angle, the matters discussed were equally relevant for all Public Sector professionals.

PAI’s Director, Garrett Fennell, chaired the event, opening the conference by informing delegates of the importance of continuous professional development while also detailing the relevancy and pertinence of the subject matters chosen for our introductory conference. PAI have designed our new CPD compliance series with the aim of providing legal professionals the opportunity to receive CPD hours that directly relate to their roles within their industry.

Over the years, more and more emphasis has been placed on the necessity of continuous professional development within the legal profession. By ensuring that all legal professionals fulfil the mandatory allocation of CPD hours that are required of their role this allows them to effectively deliver their services to the Public. It is now compulsory that solicitors obtain 20 CPD hours per year so we have designed our September and December compliance conferences to give attendees 10 CPD hours in total, allowing professionals to meet half that requirement.

General Data Protection Regulation; Legal grounds for processing, expanded rights and obligations and the accountability principle- Claire Hogan BL

Claire Hogan BL, commenced the conference with a discussion on the General Data Protection Regulation, clarifying and examining what this new framework of regulations will entail for all professionals. While GDPR has already come into effect, it is still an important topic of interest among those working in Public Bodies. Claire’s informative lecture provided our attendees with a focused and specific outline on how to process data in a GDPR compliant manner.

The key points of this session focused on:

  • The data controller vs the data processor
  • New grounds for penalisation under GDPR
  • Core data protection principles

As our delegates by and large hold positions within Public Sector bodies, knowing the correct and lawful way to handle the Public’s personal data is highly important. Claire described how resulting from GDPR there are now two types of employees that are responsible for handling data: the data controller and the data processor. Both roles have different obligations yet are equally responsible when it comes to data protection. The data controller oversees all aspects of data compliance, even when this responsibility is also delegated to a data processor. The data processor acts only under the controller yet must claim full responsibility if they do not comply with the processor’s instructions. By laying out these clear distinctions, our attendees were able to review their data protection responsibilities within their organisations and know what is expected of their position.

With the advent of GDPR, it is not only the new stricter methods of data protection that have become important, but also the revised grounds for penalisation and the core concepts which underpin this. While there has been increased monetary sanctions, perhaps one of the most significant changes of the regulations is that now it is legal to sue for non-material damage; that’s to say the pain and anxiety caused by a data breach. Overall, GDPR is rooted in the following core concepts; transparency, purpose limitation, data minimisation, accuracy, storage limitation, confidentiality and accountability. These core concepts are the fundamental regulations which will allow for a new era of increased data security and rights. Clearly GDPR is having an impact as merely two months after the introduction of these regulations 1,100 data breaches were received by the Data Protection Commission according to The Irish Times.

Managing HR complaints and investigations using best practice procedures (including mediation)Sile O’Donnell FCIPD

Sile O’Donnell led the Management and Professional Development based discussion of our CPD Conference. Focusing on HR investigations and the role of mediation, Sile’s lecture provided the conference delegates with an excellent overview on these vitally important workplace issues. HR investigations are implemented in order to both research into workplace conflict and employee behaviour with the intention of coming to a complete understanding of the issues that are at hand. HR investigations can arise for a number of different reasons within the workplace. One key area in which there is a legal basis for pursuing an investigation is the area of dignity at work, of which harassment, sexual harassment and bullying are all offences.

To allow workplace investigations and mediation to be carried out successfully there must be certain protocols that are adhered to. Sile advised that in order for mediation to be effective the following steps should be actioned/taken into consideration:

  • Note taking/Transcripts
  • Know the purpose of the investigation
  • Have a time scale
  • Know that conclusions will be based on the balance of probabilities

Lastly, while legal professionals play an important part in workplace mediation and investigations, Sile highlighted the importance of having heart to heart and face to face discussions with colleagues when problems and conflicts start to arise.


Protected Disclosures; Emerging legal issues concerning Protected Disclosures and public sector organisationsWilliam Maher BL

William Maher BL delivered the final lecture of the morning’s conference which examined Protected Disclosures in relation to the Public Sector. William’s presentation provided our delegates with a clear and definite explanation of what a protected disclosure is and under what circumstances these claims can be made. Protected Disclosures are a vital part of maintaining a workplace that is fair and respects the dignity of its employees while also adhering to workplace regulations. A protected disclosure can be understood as the disclosure of information by the worker of a relevant wrong doing in connection with their employer in a manner that is included in the protected disclosures Act 2014. In discussing Protected disclosures perhaps, the most important concept is discerning which offences qualify as a relevant wrong doing, some samples include:

  • The Commission of a Criminal Offence
  • Harming the health and safety of an Individual
  • Improperly using public funds or resources
  • Miscarriages of Justice

William’s lecture provided a clear and definitive grounding on the subject of protected disclosures which included excellent case studies and contextual examples.

PAI’s CPD conference provided our delegates with an overview of GDPR, managing HR investigations/mediation and Protected Disclosures delivered by our panel of experts in these fields.


December Conference

To follow on from this event PAI’s full day CPD conference will take place on Thursday 6 December and will account for 7 CPD Points.  For more information on this event click here

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