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Organisation Information

Freedom of Information

Published: 27 November 2018
From: Department of the Taoiseach

Introduction

The FOI Act provides that from 21 April 1998, every person has the following legal rights:

  • the right to access official records held by government departments or other public bodies listed in the Act
  • the right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
  • the right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them

These rights mean that from 21 April 1998 people can seek access to personal information held on them no matter when the information was created, and to other records created after 21 April 1998.

FOI Publication Scheme

The department has prepared an FOI Publication Scheme which makes available a range of information about the department and its work.

Publication of Quarterly FOI Log

The Department of the Taoiseach now publishes on a quarterly basis a list of non-personal FOI requests for which records issued from the Department of Taoiseach. The publication of this FOI log is one of a number of measures aimed at promoting transparency though the routine publication of information. Further information can be requested by contacting the Freedom of Information Unit by email: foi@taoiseach.gov.ie or phone (01) 619 4139.

How FOI works

The Act requires public bodies to respond to requests from the public for information they hold. In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a request within 4 weeks of receiving it. A week is defined in the Act to mean 5 consecutive weekdays excluding Saturdays and public holidays (Sundays are also excluded as they are not weekdays).

How to make an FOI request

Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing to the department's FOI Unit and should refer to the Act. If information is required in a particular form (for example, a photocopy or a computer disk) this should be specified in the application.

Requests should be as specific as possible to enable the information sought to be identified. Where possible please try to indicate the time period for which you wish to access records e.g. records created between May 2012 and December 2012. Also, if possible, try to specify the areas of the department which you feel would be most relevant to your request.

Charges for requesting information under the FOI Act

There is no fee for making a request under Freedom of Information.

It is very unlikely that any fees will be charged in respect of personal records, except where a large number of records are involved.

In the case of non-personal requests, charges may be applied for the time spent finding records and for any reproduction costs incurred by the department in providing you with the material requested where the total cost exceeds €100. Where this minimum threshold (equivalent to 5 free hours) is exceeded, a rate of €20 per hour will be charged for the full amount of time spent.

A maximum ceiling of €500 generally applies to such fees but where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €700, the request may be refused unless the scope of the request is narrowed.

List of Fees:

    Search and retrieval: €20 per hour
    Copying charges: Photocopy per sheet €0.04
    CD-ROM €10
    Radiograph €6

Appeals

  • Internal review fee: €30 (€10 for medical card holders)
  • Appeal to the Information Commissioner: €50 (€15 for medical card holders)

Records I can access

The following records come within the scope of the FOI Act:

  • all records relating to personal information held by the department irrespective of when they were created
  • all other records created from the commencement of the FOI Act (21 April 1998)
  • any records necessary to the understanding of a current record even if created prior to 21 April 1998
  • personnel records of serving staff created from 21 April 1998 and those created prior to that date where being used or proposed to be used in a way which adversely affects or may affect the person involved

However, in order to allow government business to be properly conducted, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information in some circumstances. These are set out in the Act. Among the key exemptions are records relating to:

  • government meetings
  • law enforcement and security
  • confidential and commercially sensitive information
  • personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request)

When you can expect a reply

Under the Act a request for records must be acknowledged within 2 weeks and, in most cases, responded to within 4 weeks. A week is defined in the Act to mean 5 consecutive weekdays, excluding Saturdays and public holidays (Sundays are also excluded as they are not considered weekdays). If a third party is involved there may be another three weeks before a response is given.

The next step if I'm unhappy with the decision concerning my request

If you are dissatisfied with the department's response you can seek to have a decision re-examined by a more senior member of staff within the department. Applications for review of a decision, together with a fee of €30 or a reduced fee of €10 for medical card holders should be addressed to:

Freedom of Information Unit
Address: Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland, D02 R583
Phone: (01)6194139
Email: foi@taoiseach.gov.ie

Note: These fees apply only to non-personal requests.

If you are still unhappy with the decision, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Information Commissioner. Applications with appropriate fees (€50 or a reduced fee of €15 for medical card holders) should be forwarded directly to the following address:

Office of the Information Commissioner
Address: 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2, D02 HE97
Phone: (01)6395689
Email: info@oic.gov.ie

Help in making a request

Yes, if you require any help the staff of the FOI Unit will be happy to assist you in the formulation of your request. The unit is also available to provide assistance to persons with a disability to exercise their rights under the FOI Act (for example, accepting oral requests from requesters who are unable to read, print and/or write due to their disability, enabling the requester to inspect or have records explained to him or her).

The unit can be contacted at:

Freedom of Information Unit
Address: Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland, D02 R583
Phone: (01)6194139
Email: foi@taoiseach.gov.ie

Quarterly FOI Log

FOI Quarterly Logs