What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 establishes the three following rights:
- The right to access official government records held by any public body that conforms to Section 6 of the Act.
- The right to have personal information which relates to the individual making the request corrected or updated when such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading.
- The right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them.
These rights grant people the ability to seek access to personal information relating to them, regardless of when the information was first compiled. Non-personal records can only be requested if created after 21 April, 1998.
How to make an FOI request
FOI requests should be submitted in writing, by emailing email@example.com, or via post to:
The Freedom of Information Unit,
Department of Rural and Community Development,
10-11 Leinster Street South,
Tel: 076 100 6898
All requests should include the following pieces of information:
- A statement that the request is being made under the FOI Act.
- A detailed outline of the records requested.
- If applicable, the date-range which applies to your request.
- The format in which you would like to receive the released records.
What information can I obtain with an FOI request?
The FOI Act covers all information held by public bodies. However, the Act stipulates that certain types of information can be exempt from release under certain circumstances.
Items eligible for FOI exemption include records relating to:
- Government meetings.
- Law enforcement and security.
- Confidential and commercially sensitive information.
- Matters included in certain enactments for which non-disclosure of records is permitted.
Can I appeal an FOI decision?
If you are not satisfied by the response you received, or are unhappy with the proposed charge relating to the retrieval or copying of the records, you can contact the Department at the same address the initial request was submitted to. Appeals must be lodged within four weeks of the initial decision.
Your submission will be reviewed by an officer that is more senior than the initial decision maker, within four weeks of receipt of your appeal.
If, after an internal review, you are still unsatisfied, you make seek a further review by the Information Commissioner.
You can contact the Information Commissioner by phone: (01) 6395689 or 1890 223030, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How much does it cost to make an FOI request?
FOI requests which involve the access of personal records are free in most cases.
Fees can be applied to all other requests in respect of search, retrieval and copying of requested information. The cost of photocopy is set at €0.04 per sheet & €10 per CD ROM, while the costs of search and retrieval is set at €20 per hour. If the total cost amount is less than €101 these fees will be waived.
If you wish to appeal a decision there is a set fee of €30 (€10 for medical card holders and their dependants) for an internal review and €50 (€15 for medical card holders and their dependants) when appealing to the Information Commissioner.
Who can I contact if I have a query relating to an FOI request?
All queries should be directed to the Department’s FOI officer at email@example.com.
Where can I find more information regarding FOI?
More comprehensive information on FOI can be found on the FOI website: www.foi.gov.ie.