The Freedom of Information (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.
In October, 2014, FOI was extended to a range of other public bodies, including bodies that get funding from the State and other semi-State bodies.
FOI Publication Scheme
The department has prepared an FOI Publication Scheme
which contains a range of information about the department and its work.
Publication of Quarterly FOI Log
The Department of Health publishes a list of non-personal FOI requests for which records issued from the department on a quarterly basis.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone: (01) 635 4199.
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.
Make an FOI request
To request information under the Freedom of Information Act, fill in the application form at the bottom of this page.
If information is required in a particular form (for example, a photocopy or a computer disc), 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 2015 and December 2015.
Also, if possible, try to specify the areas of the department which you feel would be most relevant to your request.
Please send your completed application form to:
Freedom of Information Unit
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 is involved. Requests for personal information includes information relating to your children or relating to deceased people.
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
Photocopy per sheet €0.04
Internal review fee: €30 (€10 for medical card holders)
Appeal to the Information Commissioner: €50 (€15 for medical card holders)
Records you 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
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:
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.
Appeal a decision
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
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
Help in making a request
If you require any help, the staff of the FOI Unit will be happy to assist you.
The unit is also available to provide assistance to people 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).