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A guide to Freedom of Information requests for the department

From: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

The Freedom of Information 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 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. Access to information under the Act is subject to certain exemptions and involves specific procedures and time limits.

Making a request

Applications should be in writing and should indicate that the records are being sought under the FOI Act. If the information is desired in a particular form, that is photocopy, this should be mentioned in the application. Please give as much detail as possible to enable staff of the department to identify the records sought. If you have difficulty in identifying the precise records that you require, the staff of the department will be happy to assist you in preparing your request.

  • Personal Requests - information relating to an identifiable individual, only known to the individual or family
  • Non-Personal Requests - broadly concerning work of a public body, for example statistics, reports, policy, briefs
  • Mixed Requests - element of both personal and non-personal category of request combined

Where to submit a request

Personal Request for information on your claim(s)

Staff have been appointed in each business area of the department to decide FOI requests.

Applications for specific claim records should be directed to 'the FOI Officer' in the relevant scheme area who dealt with your claim, that is the Local Office or Headquarter office your claim was processed in. See below for addresses.

If you are unsure where to submit your request, it can be submitted to the FOI Unit (address below) who will redirect it. You may also contact the FOI Unit by telephone/e-mail for further details.

The department does not recommend sending personal or confidential information by email.

Please note that the department cannot guarantee that any personal and sensitive data, is fully secure. Customers who choose to use this channel are deemed to have accepted any risk involved. If you have any concerns for the safety of your personal and confidential information as regards email then please consider sending the information by mail or registered mail.

When you make a request for personal information you may be required to provide some form of identification such as a public service card to ensure information is only provided to those entitled to it.

Application form for Access to Records

If you wish to access records regarding a specific claim or payment, you should specify this in your request. If it isn’t possible to identify the records requested after a reasonable search has been made, your request may be refused and you will be notified of this.

Download

Request for Amendment of Personal Records

You should attach any documents which would support your claim and let us know which documents should be returned to you.

Download

Non-Personal/Mixed Records

Requests for access to non-personal/mixed records should be forwarded to:

Freedom of Information Unit

Address:
Social Welfare Services Office, Shannon Lodge, Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim

Note: If you require general information regarding any of the Benefit or Allowance Schemes operated by the department you should contact the Scheme Area or Information Services Unit:

Locall: 189066 22 44

Fax: (071) 9193284

Email: info@welfare.ie

Information Services

Address:
Social Welfare Services, College Road, Sligo
Note--:
(Note: the rates charged for using 1890 (Lo-call) numbers may vary)

IMPORTANT:

Multifaceted or voluminous FOI requests attract fees.

To reduce potential fees for search and retrieval and photocopying of records, please ensure the request is specific and if possible targeted at one business area of the department.

Fees

Upfront fees

An upfront fee no longer applies to Non-Personal or Mixed Requests since 14 October 2014.

Search and Retrieval/Photocopying fees (from 14 October 2014):

Fees may be charged in respect of the time spent in locating and copying records, based on a standard hourly rate of €20.00 for search and retrieval and €0.04 for copying per page. The first 5 hours (€100) of search and retrieval is free. Once the charge exceeds €100, fees apply.

There is a cap on the amount of search and retrieval and copying fees that can be charged of €500 (25 hours approx), that is an FOI request that costs €650 is charged at €500. There is a further upper limit on estimated search and retrieval and copying fees at €700 (35 hours) above which an FOI body can refuse to process the request, unless you are prepared to refine the request to bring the search and retrieval and copying fees below the limit.

A deposit is payable where the total fee for search and retrieval is likely to exceed €100. In these circumstances, the department will notify you.

Third Party Information

The Act sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage key interests of the State or of third parties. Where the department invokes these provisions to withhold information, the decision may be appealed. Decisions in relation to the deferral of access, charges, forms of access, and so on may also be the subject of appeal.

Internal Review

If you are dissatisfied with the initial decision, you may seek an internal review which will be carried out by an official at a higher level in the department. You may also seek an internal review if you have not received a reply within 4 weeks of your initial application.

A request for internal review must be submitted within 4 weeks of the initial decision (or the date the decision was due in the case of non-reply). The department must complete the review within 3 weeks.

There is no upfront fee for a request for a review in relation to personal records. However, a fee of €30 must accompany most applications for internal review of a decision in relation to non-personal records. A reduced fee of €10 applies if you are covered by a medical card. There is no fee payable for cases where a review is sought due to the non-reply of the initial request.

Appeal by the Information Commissioner

Following completion of internal review, you may seek independent review of the decision by the Information Commissioner. Also, if you have not received a reply to your application for internal review within 3 weeks, this is deemed a refusal and you may appeal the matter to the Commissioner. The Commissioner's decision is final and can only be appealed to the High Court on a point of law.

Appeals to the Information Commissioner should be made in writing to the following address:

Office of the Information Commissioner

Address:
18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

There is no upfront fee for a request for an appeal in relation to personal records. However, a fee of €50 must accompany most applications for review by the Information Commissioner in relation to non-personal records. A reduced fee of €15 applies if you are covered by a medical card. There is no fee payable for cases where an appeal is being sought due to the non-reply of the internal review request.

Routinely Available Information

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has always made information routinely available to the public in relation to its functions, activities and schemes.

The department is committed to ensuring that staff making decisions, do so with full knowledge of the relevant legislation and regulations and that the basis for those decisions is clearly explained to customers. Such information is available informally without the need to use the FOI Act.

The FOI Act is designed to allow public access to information held by public bodies which is NOT routinely available through other sources.

Confidentiality of Information

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection undertakes to treat as confidential any information provided to it by individuals or others on a confidential basis, subject to the department's obligations under law, including the Freedom of Information Act. Any persons supplying information to the department that they wish to have treated as confidential should state this when providing the information and state the reasons for its sensitivity. The department will consult with any individual or body so supplying sensitive information before making a decision on any Freedom of Information request received.

List of Freedom of Information Contacts within the department

    Bereavement Grants, Carer’s Allowance/Carer’s Benefit, Disability Allowance, Disablement Benefit, Working Family Payment (formerly Family Income Supplement, Invalidity Pension FOI Officer, Management Support Unit, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford
    Child Benefit, Treatment Benefit FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
    Records (PRSI Contributions), Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit, Health and Safety Benefit, Paternity Benefit FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Inner Relief Road, Ardarvan, Buncrana, Co Donegal
    Domiciliary Care Allowance Household Benefits, Information Unit, Guardians Payment (Contributory and Non-Contributory), State Pension (Contributory, Non-Contributory and Transition); Blind Pension, Widow’s (Contributory and Non-Contributory), One-Parent Family Payment (if payment made at this office) FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, College Road, Sligo
    Community Employment FOI Officer, Community Employment, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Goldsmith House, 7-13 Pearse Street, Dublin 2
    Illness Benefit, Injury Benefit (OIB) FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1
    Medical Review and Assessment - Medical Records Only FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell House, 19-28 North Cumberland Street, Dublin 1
    PRSI Refunds – PRSI paid in error to Employers and Employees, Scope – decisions on insurability of employment, Redundancy and Insolvency FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Gandon House, Amiens Street, Dublin 1
    Carers Support Grant (formerly Respite Care Grant) FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Gandon House, Amien Street, Dublin 1
    The Asylum Seekers/New Communities and Homeless Persons Unit, Dublin FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1
    PPS Numbers (Client Identity Services), Gateway, Rural Social Scheme (RSS), TÚS FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim

Divisional Offices

Dublin Central

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Parnell/King’s Inns Street (previously North Cumberland Street) FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1
    Thomas Street – now Intreo Office, Cork Street FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1
    Apollo House – now Intreo Office, Cork Street FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1
    Nutgrove FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1
    Ballyfermot Maynooth FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1
    Bishop’s Square FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1
    Navan Road FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 20 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1

Dublin North

    Intreo Centre
    Balbriggan, Ballymun, Kilbarrack, Finglas, Coolock, Swords, Blanchardstown FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Mellowes Road, Finglas, Dublin 11

Dublin South/Mid Leinster

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Dun Laoghaire FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24
    Tallaght FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24
    Clondalkin FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24
    Newbridge Athy, Baltinglass FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24
    Arklow Wicklow FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24
    Bray FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Mid-West

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Ennis Ennistymon, Kilrush, Tulla FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick
    Limerick FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick
    Newcastlewest Kilmallock FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick
    Thurles Nenagh, Roscrea FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick
    Listowel Newmarket FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick
    Tralee Dingle, Killorglin FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick
    Kenmare FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick
    Killarney FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Henry Street, Limerick

Midlands

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Tullamore Control Office Portarlington, Birr, Portlaoise, Rathdowney FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford
    Edenderry FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford
    Longford FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford
    Athlone FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford
    Mullingar Castlepollard FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Ballinalee Road, Longford

North East

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Drogheda Ardee FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Government Buildings, St Alphonsus Road, Dundalk, Co Louth
    Dundalk Carrickmacross, Castleblayney, Monaghan, Clones FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Government Buildings, St Alphonsus Road, Dundalk, Co Louth
    Cavan Ballyconnell, Belturbet FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Government Buildings, St Alphonsus Road, Dundalk, Co Louth
    Navan Kells, Trim FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Government Buildings, St Alphonsus Road, Dundalk, Co Louth

North West

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Buncrana FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo
    Carrick-on-Shannon FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo
    Dunfanaghy FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo
    Dungloe FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo
    Letterkenny FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo
    Manorhamilton FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo
    Donegal Control Office Ballybofey, Donegal Branch Office, Killybegs, Ballyshannon FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo
    Sligo Tubbercurry FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cranmore, Sligo

West

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Achill FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Ballina Ballinrobe, Claremorris, Swinford FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Belmullet FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Castlebar FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Clifden FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Galway Gort, Ballinasloe FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Loughrea Tuam FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Westport FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway
    Roscommon Control Office Castlerea, Boyle, Roscommon Branch Office FOI Officer, Intreo Centre, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Sean Duggan Centre, Fairgreen Road, Galway

Cork

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Cork FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Floor 4, Abbeycourt House, George’s Quay, Cork
    Cobh Midleton, Youghal FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Floor 4, Abbeycourt House, George’s Quay, Cork
    Carraigaline Bandon, Clonakility, Kinsale FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Floor 4, Abbeycourt House, George’s Quay, Cork
    Bantry Control Office Bantry Branch Office, Skibbereen FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Floor 4, Abbeycourt House, George’s Quay, Cork
    Cahirciveen FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Floor 4, Abbeycourt House, George’s Quay, Cork
    Mallow Control Office Fermoy, Macroom, Mallow Branch Office FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Floor 4, Abbeycourt House, George’s Quay, Cork

South East

    Intreo Centre Branch Office
    Waterford Carrick-on-Suir, Thomastown, Dungarvan FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cork Road, Waterford
    Wexford Enniscorthy, Gorey, New Ross FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cork Road, Waterford
    Carlow Muine Bheag, Tullow FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cork Road, Waterford
    Kilkenny FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cork Road, Waterford
    Clonmel Cahir, Cashel, Tipperary FOI Officer, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Cork Road, Waterford