Misneach – Louise Bayliss airs on Wednesday 20th October at 9.30pm on TG4 and on the TG4 Player.
Produced by Midas Productions
Ireland has always been a lonely place for Whistleblowers. Those who stand up and speak out have historically suffered as a result of their disclosures. The 2014 Protected Disclosures Act aims to offer protection to those who speak out.
But what of those who spoke out before any protection existed?
In December 2011, Louise Bayliss, a single mother of two from Dublin, was working as an advocate for patients at various psychiatric hospitals around Dublin. For Louise this position with the Irish Advocacy Network was a career she had dreamed of, having just completed a Masters in Equality Studies in UCD.
Just before Christmas, Louise visited St Brendan’s Hospital, Grangegorman. The visit was uplifting, the patients, whom she described as being like a family, were excited and preparing for Christmas.
Louise was then informed by the staff that the female patients in open Ward 3B, many of whom had minor mental health issues, would be moved to the ‘locked unit’ for the Christmas period due to staffing issues.
Louise then visited the locked unit, Unit O, to see how the moved patients would be accommodated. She was appalled by the conditions. The plan was to add beds where there was insufficient space, and remove the existing patients’ personal lockers, their only personal space, to make room for more patients over the Christmas period.
After doing all she could within her position to change this decision, she understood that nothing would be done in time to prevent the move. She was a single parent and couldn’t afford to lose her job and her income. Yet she saw no other option than to blow the whistle.
The following day after attending a protest outside the Dáil against damaging cuts to Lone Parents Allowance outlined in the 2012 Budget, Louise appeared on Joe Duffy’s Liveline radio show and spoke about what she had learned the day before about the treatment of the vulnerable female patients in St. Brendan’s.
In doing so her life changed forever as she risked her career and her and her family’s financial security.
In the weeks that followed Louise’s story made headlines. The female patients were moved and she was dismissed, reinstated on a training contract, and never again set foot in a psychiatric hospital.