The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2014 was enacted on 14 October, 2014. Under the Act, FOI was extended to a range of public bodies, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate. The Act asserts the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.
While the Inspectorate comes under the Act with effect from 14 April 2015, only records created by the Inspectorate on or after the 21 April 2008, are subject to FOI.
FOI Model Publication Scheme is available here. Here are some frequently asked questions in relation to FOI requests.
FOI applies to all public bodies that conform to the definition of a public body under Section 6 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. A number of bodies, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, are designated as exempt or part exempt under the Act. The relevant part of the Act that deals with this exemption is Schedule 1 which states:
Section 6 does not include a reference to—
(o) the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, insofar as it relates to records concerning an inspection or inquiry carried out by that Inspectorate under section 117(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Therefore records related to inspections or inquiries cannot be released under FOI. Records held relating to the administration of the Inspectorate can be requested.
Write to the FOI Officer, Garda Síochána Inspectorate, 87 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 or email: [email protected]. The main switchboard for the Garda Inspectorate is (01) 4086500.
In your correspondence you should:
- State that you are making the request under the FOI Act
- Give as much information as possible about the information you require
- Specify how you would prefer to receive the records – as paper copies, electronic copies or in another format
Requests will be acknowledged within 10 working days of receipt giving, inter alia, contact details of the person handling the request. A final decision on your request will be sent to you within 20 working days of receipt. If difficulty is experienced in identifying the records required, the staff of the Garda Inspectorate will be in touch with you at the earliest opportunity to clarify the request.
You may appeal any FOI decision to an Internal Reviewer within the Garda Inspectorate. You should normally make your appeal within 4 weeks from the date of the decision. The appeal will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by a more senior member of staff of the Inspectorate and a decision will be notified to you within 3 weeks.
Any appeal should be sent in writing to:
FOI Internal Reviewer
Garda Síochána Inspectorate
87 St. Stephen’s Green
The Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street
Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689
Locall: 1890 25 32 38
E-mail: [email protected]
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides for a completely new FOI fees regime.
In the case of requests which relate to non-personal information there are charges applied for search, retrieval and copying. The relevant section of the Act here is Section 27(2) and these fees relate to:
- Determining whether it holds the information requested;
- Locating the information or documents containing the information
- Retrieving such information or documents
- Extracting the information from the files, documents, electronic or other information sources containing both it and other material not relevant to the request, and
- Preparing a schedule specifying the records for consideration for release
In most cases there are no search, retrieval and copying charges where the request relates to your own personal records. However the Act does allow that in situations where the request relates to a significant number of records that a charge may be levied having regard to the circumstances of the requester.
A charge applies to reviews and appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner concerning access to non-personal records. There are reductions for medical card holders. This will be notified to you at the appropriate time by the relevant public body.
Information in relation to fees is available on the Central Policy Unit website here.
European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007 and S.I. No. 662 of 2011) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations), give legal rights to those seeking to access information on the environment from public authorities.
Under these regulations, information relating to the environment held by, or for, a public authority must be made available on request, subject to certain exceptions.
The AIE Regulations provide a definition of environmental information; outlines the manner in which requests for information may be submitted to public authorities and the manner in which public authorities are required to deal with requests.
When making a request for information under the AIE Regulations, you are required to:
- state that the application is being made under the AIE Regulations and submit it in writing or electronic form;
- provide your contact details;
- state, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental information required, and
- if you require the information in a specific format or manner of access, you should specify this in your request.
There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations. However, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate may charge a reasonable fee for supplying the information requested. This may include the costs of compiling, copying, printing or posting of information. There is no charge for applying for an internal review.
An appeal to the Commissioner for Environment Information is €50 or €15 if the applicant is the holder or dependent of a holder of a medical card, or a third party appealing the decision to release certain information
In general, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate is required to respond to an AIE request within one month of receipt of the request. Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate is unable to respond within the one month timeframe, we will write to the applicant within the month, indicating when a response will issue. This date should not be more than two months from the receipt of the original request.
If the Garda Síochána Inspectorate does not have the information requested; it can either transfer the request to another public authority or advise the applicant of where it believes the request should be directed. In either case, it is required to notify the applicant.
Under Article 11 of the AIE Regulations you have a right to seek an internal review of the initial decision. You may also request an internal review if you have not received a response within the appropriate timeframe. An internal review must be requested within one month of receipt of the original decision (the public authority may extend this timeframe but is not required to do so). There is no charge for requesting an internal review.
An internal review involves a complete reconsideration of the matter by a member of the staff of the public authority, who may affirm, vary or annul the original decision made.
A written outcome of the review informing you of the decision, the reason for the decision and advising you of your right of appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, including the time limits and fees associated with such an appeal, will be issued to you within one month of the date of receipt of the request for the review.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI). You must appeal within one month of receiving the decision on the internal review from the public authority. However, the Commissioner may extend this time limit in individual cases