Independent Complaints Review Panel

A request for a review of a decision on a complaint may be made by:

  • A client who uses Sage Advocacy services;
  • Somebody acting on the client’s behalf provided that it is clear that the client has sought assistance from that person in making the complaint;
  • Somebody acting on the client’s behalf where there is clear evidence that the client does not have the capacity to make a complaint or to ask another person to assist; or
  • A bona fide third party, e.g. relative, social and health care provider or nominated representatives under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, or a person considered by the Panel to be a bona fide third party who was not involved in assisting with the original complaint.

The Independent Complaints Review Panel (the Panel) will have discretion as to whether a person can be part of a review as a bona fide third party where they were not involved in assisting with the original complaint.

It is important to note that the Sage Advocacy Independent Complaints Review Panel will only accept complaints from clients, or on behalf of clients.  Family members, stakeholders and/or members of the public, when complaining about matters affecting them rather than a client, do not have recourse to the ICRP, but may refer a complaint to the Ombudsman.

  • To make a request for a review of a complaint by the Panel you should first have availed of the internal complaints process within Sage Advocacy.
  • If you have not already done so please contact or phone 01 536 7330.
  • If you have already availed of the internal complaints process and are unhappy with the outcome, you can request a review. This should be made within 30 days of the decision on the complaint.  In certain circumstances the Panel may agree to extend this time limit. 

You will need to set out the grounds on which the review is being sought and explain why you believe that the decision on the complaint was wrong.

You must fill in a Request for a Review of Complaint form.  You can also request a form by phoning Sage Advocacy at 015367330 or emailing

In reviewing any decision on a complaint, the Panel must first decide whether a review is necessary. 

In doing so they will be guided by a number of factors.  The full list of factors is available in the next section below.  For example, the Panel will only consider a complaint about the work of Sage Advocacy and will not consider any anonymous or frivolous complaints.  The Panel will also need to be given reasons why you think the decision on the complaint was wrong.

If a review is not felt to be necessary, the Chair of the Panel will inform you in writing of the reasons for its decision.

If a review is necessary the Panel will send a copy of your request to the CEO of Sage Advocacy and ask for a response to the points made in your request. This response will be sent to you by the Panel for further comment by you.  Any further comments you make will be provided to the CEO and the Panel will then proceed with a review of your complaint.

Please note that full documentation related to the complaint needs to be made available to the Panel, and this may also include personal data relating to the client of Sage Advocacy, and, where relevant, the person acting on behalf of the client.

The Panel will be guided by the following:

  • The original complaint must have been examined and decided by the CEO and the outcome has not been accepted by the complainant;
  • When considering a request for a review, the Panel will have regard to the same criteria considered by the CEO when examining the original complaint.

These criteria are as follows:

  • The complaint cannot be considered frivolous or vexatious;
  • The complaint cannot be anonymous;
  • The complaint must have been made directly by a client, on behalf of a client or by a bona fide third party;
  • The complaint must relate to the work of Sage Advocacy and not to another organisation, agency or service;
  • The complaint does/did not relate to HSE Safeguarding & Protection Team/Garda Síochána concerns which are dealt with under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons Policy of Sage Advocacy;
  • The complaint was/is not the subject of legal proceedings;
  • The complaint cannot be considered if it relates to an Information or Subject Access Request made to Sage Advocacy under the General Data Protection Regulations 2016, which may be appealed directly to the Data Protection Commission.

In addition, the complainant should give reasons as to why the decision of the CEO on their complaint justifies a review such as, but not confined to: 

–  new evidence which has come to light which could materially affect the basis of the CEO’s decision; and/or

–  evidence of a substantial flaw which significantly affected how the decision on the complaint was reached by the CEO.

The Panel can either:

  • confirm the CEO’s decision on the complaint; or
  • refer the matter back to the CEO for reconsideration in accordance with guidance provided by the Panel.

The Panel will then inform you in writing of its decision and if it feels no further action is necessary it will explain the reasons why.

The Panel’s decision is normally final and conclusive. However, it may, in certain circumstances, be reviewable by the Ombudsman.

The Panel will strive to carry out its review within 28 days of receiving full comments from the CEO and Complainant, and the entirety documentation related to the request for a review.  However, the complexity of some cases may require more time.  When the Panel makes its decision, a short summary written report will then be forwarded to the person who made the complaint within the next 7 days. 

Pat Whelan (Chair)

Pat Whelan is a former Director General of the Office of the Ombudsman for Ireland. Since his retirement from that position in 2012, he has been engaged on a consultancy basis with a number of public and private sector agencies.  Pat holds a degree in Science from University College, Dublin and a Masters Degree in Management Science from Trinity College, Dublin. After graduating, he worked with British Telecom in London, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in Dublin, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Finance. He also served with the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.

He participated in various sub-committees of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association (now called the Ombudsman Association) on a range of issues including the development of best practice in complaint handling and governance for ombudsman offices. He also served for six years as Chair of the internal audit committee of the Public Appointments Service.

Caroline Lynch

Initially employed as a journalist with the Irish Press Newspaper Group for almost seven years (1989-1995) before working in the community and voluntary sector for over 20 years. Held senior communications roles with the Irish Red Cross Society (1995-1998) and Trocaire (1998-2004) and worked with a number of organisations including trade unions and NGOs while employed with Montague Communications (2004-2005). Moved into managing communications and advocacy with the Irish Hospice Foundation (2005-2014). During this time, managed the work of the National Council of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland and its flagship Think Ahead document and process.

Kieran Coughlan

Kieran entered the civil service in 1973 and was appointed to Leinster House in October of that year and served 40 years in the Houses of the Oireachtas administration in various roles from 1973 -2013, 23 of which were at the most senior level as Clerk of the Dail and Secretary General of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service and Chief Executive to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. He served in various statutory Commissions: Ethics in Public Office Commission (subsequently Standards in Public Office), Referendum Commission and Constituency Revision Commission from 1990 to 2013 and the Commission on Electronic Voting 2005 and was appointed to the National Heritage Council in June 2016. Kieran was appointed Adjunct Professor within the College of Business and Law, University College Cork in March, 2017.