Freedom of Information:
What is Freedom of Information?
The Freedom of Information Act provides, that from the effective date, every person has the following legal rights:
• the right to access official records held by Government Departments or other public bodies as defined by 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.
Regulations provide that parents, guardians and next-of-kin may apply to exercise these rights in certain circumstances.
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 the effective date.
What is a Record?
A record includes a book or other written or printed material which is in any form including in any electrical device. It is a map, plan or drawing, a disc, tape or film which contains visual or non-visual images or a copy of any of these.
How Does the Process Work?
The Act requires Freedom of Information bodies to respond to request from the public for information they hold. In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a request within four weeks of receiving it. Also, Freedom of Information bodies are required to publish information in line with the model publication scheme, and are encouraged to publish as much information as possible outside of FOI.
Do I have to pay for getting information under FOI?
When the request is for personal information there are no charges unless there is a significant number of records.
In the case of requests which relate to non-personal information there are charges are applied for search retrieval and copying. The relevant section of the Act here is Section 27(2) and these fees relate to:
(a) Determining whether it holds the information requested;
(b) Locating the information or documents containing the information;
(c) Retrieving such information or documents;
(d) Extracting the information from the files, documents, electronic or other information sources containing both it and other material not relevant to the request, and;
(e) Preparing a schedule specifying the records for consideration for release.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS OF APPEAL?
Can I appeal a decision?
Yes. If you are not satisfied with the decision on an FOI request, you may ask the department or body for an “internal review” of the decision. A more senior officer will review your application. You will be told the result of this review within three weeks.
If you are not satisfied with the decision on “internal review”, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review the matter.
Is there a charge for appealing a decision of a public body?
• A fee of €30 must accompany an application for internal review of a decision of a public body.
• A reduced fee of €10 applies if you are covered by a medical card.
• There is no fee for internal review applications concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.
• A fee of €50 must accompany most applications for review by the Information Commissioner.
• A reduced fee of €15 applies if you are covered by a medical card or in relation to a review concerning certain third party information.
• There is no fee for review applications concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to decisions to impose fees or deposits.
Do I need to make a FOI Request to obtain information from St. Francis Hospice Dublin?
No. St. Francis Hospice Dublin routinely makes information available to the public through information leaflets, publications, and administrative access and this will continue. FOI provides an additional source of information by facilitating access to records not made routinely available.
More information on Freedom of Information, including the text of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is available at www.foi.gov.ie