Country

Ireland

Ireland

Name of law : Freedom of Information Act
First adopted : 2003
Last modified : 14 October 2014
RTI Rating last updated : 07 August 2015

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 3
Scope 30 21
Requesting procedures 30 21
Exceptions 30 10
Appeals 30 23
Sanctions 8 6
Promotional measures 16 11
TOTAL 150 95

Right of Access

Indicator

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Comments
1 The legal framework (including jurisprudence) recognises a fundamental right of access to information.Score 0 for no constitutional right to information, 1 point for a limited constitutional right, 2 points for full constitutional recognition of a public right of access to information.2 NO Not mentioned. Link to the Constitution of Ireland (pdf, English version): http://archive.constitution.ie/reports/ConstitutionofIreland.pdf
2 The legal framework creates a specific presumption in favour of access to all information held by public authorities, subject only to limited exceptions.No=0, Partially=1, Yes=22 YES Article 6. Section 8: \\\\\\\"Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting or restricting a public body from publishing or giving access to a record (including an exempt record) otherwise than under this Act where such publication or giving of access is not prohibited by law.\\\\\\\"
3 3.1 The legal framework contains a specific statement of principles calling for a broad interpretation of the RTI law
3.2 The legal framework emphasises the benefits of the right to information?
3.1(Y/N - max 1 point)
3.2 (Y/N - max 1 point)
2 Partially Preamble contains this, as does the Section 11 (3): \\\\\\\"(3) An FOI body, in performing any function under this Act, shall have regard to— (a) the need to achieve greater openness in the activities of FOI bodies and to promote adherence by them to the principle of transparency in government and public affairs, (b) the need to strengthen the accountability and improve the quality of decision- making of FOI bodies, and (c) the need to inform scrutiny, discussion, comment and review by the public of the activities of FOI bodies and facilitate more effective participation by the public in consultations relating to the role, responsibilities and performance of FOI bodies.\\\\\\\" 1 point given under indicator 3.2: Preamble: \\\\\\\"An Act to enable members of the public to obtain access, to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy, to information in the possession of public bodies...\\\\\\\"




Scope

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4 Everyone (including non-citizens and legal entities) has the right to file requests for information.Score 0 point if only residents/citizens; 1 point for all natural persons; 1 point for legal persons. 2 YES Section 11 (1) \\\\\\\"Subject to this Act, every person has a right to and shall, on request therefor, be offered access to any record held by an FOI body and the right so conferred is referred to in this Act as the right of access.\\\\\\\" The article does not define the differences between natural or legal persons, but can be inferred by the spirit of the law that both persons are able to fill the request, and this happens in practice.
5 The right of access applies to all material held by or on behalf of public authorities which is recorded in any format, regardless of who produced it.Score 1-3 points if limited definition of information information such as not "internal documents" or databases excluded, 4 points for all information with no exceptions.4 Partially Section 17 (4) \\\\\\\" Where an FOI request relates to data contained in more than one record held on an electronic device by the FOI body concerned— (a) subject to paragraph (b), the FOI body shall take reasonable steps to search for and extract the records to which the request relates, being steps that involve the use of any facility for electronic search or extraction that existed on the date of the request and was used by the FOI body in the ordinary course\\\\\\\" This constrains data access in some cases.
6 Requesters have a right to access both information and records/documents (i.e. a right both to ask for information and to apply for specific documents).Score 1 point for only documents, 1 point for information2 Partially Section 2 outlines the types of records which can be obtained. However general information requests are rejected. The Act only allows for the obtaining of records. \\\\\\\"Information\\\\\\\" is not covered.
7 The right of access applies to the executive branch with no bodies or classes of information excluded.This includes executive (cabinet) and adminsitration including all ministries, departments, local government, public schools, public health care bodies, the police, the armed forces, security services, and bodies owned or controlled by the above.Score 4 points for central government agencies covered: 1 for the head of state, 1 for ministries, 1 for other non-statutory agencies created by the ministries, 1 for state and local government if the government is unitary. If it´s a federalist system, 2 points for the non-statutory agencies. This can be determined by examining the length and thoroughness of the list, if such a schedule exists. Score 1 point for the archives. Add three points and deduct 1 for each exempted central agency (such as the armed forces, police, etc).8 Partially Section 6 (1) outlines a broad definition of a public authority While the definition of public authority is broad, the Minister may exclude bodies from the general definition, and exclude classes of records within specified public bodies.
8 The right of access applies to the legislature, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all legislative branch at all levels of government4 Partially Section 42. Private papers of politicians are excluded. The legislature is generally covered, certain specified records are not.
9 The right of access applies to the judicial branch, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all judicial branch at all levels of government4 Partially Section 42 excludes records held by courts. Administrative records of the courts are included.
10 The right of access applies to State-owned enterprises (commercial entities that are owned or controlled by the State). Score 1 point if some, 2 points if all2 Partially Most State-owned enterprises are excluded. (Part 2 of Schedule - Exempt agencies)
11 The right of access applies to other public authorities, including constitutional, statutory and oversight bodies (such as an election commission or information commission/er). Score 1 point if some bodies, 2 points if all2 YES Section 6 (1) covers these
12 The right of access applies to a) private bodies that perform a public function and b) private bodies that receive significant public funding. 1 point for public functions, 1 point for public funding 2 YES Section 6 (1)

Requesting Procedures

Indicator

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Comments
13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES Section 13 (4): Subject to this Act, in deciding whether to grant or refuse to grant an FOI request— (a) any reason that the requester gives for the request, and (b) any belief or opinion of the head as to what are the reasons of the requester for the request, shall be disregarded.
14 Requesters are only required to provide the details necessary for identifying and delivering the information (i.e. some form of address for delivery).Score Max 2 points and deduct if requesters are required to give any of the following: ID number, telephone number, residential address, etc.2 YES Section 12 (1): A person who wishes to exercise the right of access shall make a request, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, addressed to the head of the FOI body concerned for access to the record concerned— (a) stating that the request is made under this Act, (b) containing sufficient particulars in relation to the information concerned to enable the record to be identified by the taking of reasonable steps, and (c) if the person requires such access to be given in a particular form or manner (being a form or manner referred to in section 17 ), specifying the form or manner of access. Apart from the necessary details to identify the information, the requesters are asked to specify the form or manner of access, but that it´s not considered a limitation to the exercise of the right.
15 There are clear and relatively simple procedures for making requests. Requests may be submitted by any means of communication, with no requirement to use official forms or to state that the information is being requested under the access to information law.Max 2 points. Considerations include that there is no requirement to state that the request is under the RTI law, nor to use an official form, nor to identify the document being sought. 2 Partially Section 12 (1): A person who wishes to exercise the right of access shall make a request, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, addressed to the head of the FOI body concerned for access to the record concerned— (a) stating that the request is made under this Act, (b) containing sufficient particulars in relation to the information concerned to enable the record to be identified by the taking of reasonable steps, and (c) if the person requires such access to be given in a particular form or manner (being a form or manner referred to in section 17 ), specifying the form or manner of access. The requester must state they are making the request under the law.
16 Public officials are required provide assistance to help requesters formulate their requests, or to contact and assist requesters where requests that have been made are vague, unduly broad or otherwise need clarification. Score 1 point for help in formulation and 1 point for clarification procedures2 YES Section 11 (2): (2) An FOI body shall give reasonable assistance to a person who is seeking a record under this Act— (a) in relation to the making of the FOI request for access to the record, and (b) if the person has a disability, so as to facilitate the exercise by the person of his or her rights under this Act. And in Section 15 (4): A head shall not refuse, pursuant to paragraph (b) or (c) of subsection (1), to grant an FOI request unless he or she has assisted, or offered to assist, the requester concerned in an endeavour so as to amend the request for re-submission such that it no longer falls within those paragraphs.
17     Public officials are required to provide assistance to requesters who require it because of special needs, for example because they are illiterate or disabled.Score Yes=2 point, No=02 YES Section 11 (2) (b if the person has a disability, so as to facilitate the exercise by the person of his or her rights under this Act. Specific mention of persons with a disability.
18 Requesters are provided with a receipt or acknowledgement upon lodging a request within a reasonable timeframe, which should not exceed 5 working daysScore 1 point for receipt, 1 point for max 5 working days2 Partially Section 12(2) The head shall cause the receipt by him or her of a request under subsection (1) to be notified, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, to the requester concerned as soon as may be but not later than 2 weeks after such receipt, and the notification shall include a summary of the provisions of section 19 and particulars of the rights of review under this Act, the procedure governing the exercise of those rights, and the time limits governing such exercise, in a case to which that section applies. In this case the timeframe should not exceed 2 weeks after the receipt.
19 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for situations where the authority to which a request is directed does not have the requested information. This includes an obligation to inform the requester that the information is not held and to refer the requester to another institution or to transfer the request where the public authority knows where the information is held.Score: 1 point for information not held, 1 for referrals or 2 for transfers2 YES Section 12 (3): (3) Where a request under this section is received by the head of an FOI body (“head”) and the record or records concerned are not held by the body (“the first-mentioned body”) but, to the knowledge of the head, are held by one or more other FOI bodies, the head shall, as soon as may be, but not more than 2 weeks, after the receipt of the request, cause a copy of the request to be given to the head of the other body or, as the case may be, to the head of that one of the other bodies— (a) whose functions are, in the opinion of the head, most closely related to the subject matter of the records concerned, or (b) that, in the opinion of the head, is otherwise most appropriate, and inform the requester concerned, by notice in writing or in such other form as may be determined, of his or her having done so and thereupon— (i) the head to whom the copy aforesaid is furnished shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to have received the request under this section and to have received it at the time of the receipt by him or her of the copy, and (ii) the head shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, not to have received the request.
20 Public authorities are required to comply with requesters’ preferences regarding how they access information, subject only to clear and limited overrides (e.g. to protect a record).Score: 2 points for Yes, only 1 point if some limitations2 Partially Section 17. (1) A head may give access under this Act to a record by providing the requester— (a) with a copy of the record, (b) with a transcript of the information concerned, (c) where available in such form and subject to subsection (2), with a searchable electronic version of the record, (d) with a reasonable opportunity to inspect the record, (e) in case the record is of sound or visual images, with a reasonable opportunity to hear or view the record, (f) in case the information is in shorthand or other code, with the information unencoded in written form or such other form as may be determined, (g) with the information in such other form or manner as may be determined, or (h) with the information in a combination of any 2 or more of the foregoing. (2) Where a head decides to grant an FOI request and the request is for access in a particular form or manner to a record, such access shall be given in that form or manner unless the head concerned is satisfied— (a) that such access in another form or manner specified in or determined under subsection (1) would be significantly more efficient, or (b) that the giving of access in the form or manner requested would— (i) be physically detrimental to the record, (ii) involve an infringement of copyright (other than copyright owned by the State, the Government or the FOI body concerned), (iii) conflict with a legal duty or obligation of an FOI body, or (iv) prejudice, impair or damage any interest protected by Part 4 or 5. They are required to provide access to the record in the manner requested, unless a good reason not to.
21 Public authorities are required to respond to requests as soon as possible.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points 2 YES Section 13. (1) Subject to this Act, a head shall, as soon as may be, but not later than 4 weeks, after the receipt of an FOI request— (a) decide whether to grant or refuse to grant the request or to grant it in part, (b) if he or she decides to grant the request, whether wholly or in part, determine the form and manner in which the right of access will be exercised, and (c) cause notice, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, of the decision and determination to be given to the requester concerned.
22 There are clear and reasonable maximum timelines (20 working days or less) for responding to requests, regardless of the manner of satisfying the request (including through publication).Score: 1 point for timeframes of 20 working days (or 1 month, 30 days or 4 weeks). Score 2 points for 10 working days (or 15 days, or two weeks) or less.2 Partially Section 13. (1) Subject to this Act, a head shall, as soon as may be, but not later than 4 weeks, after the receipt of an FOI request— (a) decide whether to grant or refuse to grant the request or to grant it in part, (b) if he or she decides to grant the request, whether wholly or in part, determine the form and manner in which the right of access will be exercised, and (c) cause notice, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, of the decision and determination to be given to the requester concerned. 4 weeks.
23 There are clear limits on timeline extensions (20 working days or less), including a requirement that requesters be notified and provided with the reasons for the extension.---2 YES Section 14 (1) The head may, as respects an FOI request received by him or he r (the “specified request”), extend the period specified in section 13 (1) for consideration of the request by such period as he or she considers necessary but not exceeding a period of 4 weeks if, in the opinion of the head— (a) the request relates to such number of records, or (b) the number of other FOI requests relating either to the record or records to which the specified request relates or to information corresponding to that to which the specified request relates or to both that have been made to the FOI body concerned before the specified request was made to it and in relation to which a decision under section 13 has not been made is such, that compliance with that subsection within the period specified therein is not reasonably possible. Public bodies can seek a 4 week extension, and the requester has no option but to accept.
24 It is free to file requests.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 YES There is no fee for requests.
25 There are clear rules relating to access fees, which are set centrally, rather than being determined by individual public authorities. These include a requirement that fees be limited to the cost of reproducing and sending the information (so that inspection of documents and electronic copies are free) and a certain initial number of pages (at least 20) are provided for free. Score 1 point for fees being limited to reproduction and delivery costs and set centrally, 1 point for at least 20 pages free of charge or for fees being optional2 NO Section 27. (1) Such amount as may be appropriate having regard to the provisions of this section shall be charged by the FOI body concerned under this subsection and paid by the requester concerned to the body in respect of the grant of an FOI request. The amount of a charge under this subsection shall be equal to the estimated cost of the search for and retrieval and copying of the record concerned by the FOI body concerned for the requester. There is 5 hours free search and retrieval and €20 per hour thereafter plus appeals fees. The fees themselves are laid out in a separate supporting law (a statutory instrument), making it more confusing.
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 Partially S.I. No. 484/2014 - Freedom of Information Act 2014 (Fees) Regulations 2014 Reduced fees exist only for appeals (€10 instead of €30 for internal review and €15 instead of €50 for appeal to the Commissioner). No reduced fees for search and retrieval (which is €20 an hour above the first 5 hours - which are free). It is for medical card holders and their dependents. The Act has to be read in conjunction with SI 484 2014
27 There are no limitations on or charges for reuse of information received from public bodies, except where a third party (which is not a public authority) holds a legally-protected copyright over the information. Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 NO Not mentioned.


Exceptions

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28 The standards in the RTI Law trump restrictions on information disclosure (secrecy provisions) in other legislation to the extent of any conflict.Score 4 points for a resounding "yes" and 1/2/3 points if only for some classes of information or for some exceptions. If the state secrets law is not trumped by the RTI law max score is 2 points. 4 YES Section 8 (8) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting or restricting an FOI body from publishing or giving access to a record (including an exempt record) otherwise than under this Act where such publication or giving of access is not prohibited by law.
29 The exceptions to the right of access are consistent with international standards. Permissible exceptions are: national security; international relations; public health and safety; the prevention, investigation and prosecution of legal wrongs; privacy; legitimate commercial and other economic interests; management of the economy; fair administration of justice and legal advice privilege; conservation of the environment; and legitimate policy making and other operations of public authorities. It is also permissible to refer requesters to information which is already publicly available, for example online or in published form.Score 10 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which either (a) falls outside of this list and/or (b) is more broadly framed10 NO PART III, EXEMPT RECORDS; Sections 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40. Some of the exceptions that fall outside the permissible are; records proposed to be, or submitted to the Government for their consideration (5 year rule also exists here); prejudice the effectiveness of tests, examinations, investigations; matters relating to Northern Ireland; the record concerned contains information given to the public body concerned in confidence; the record concerned contains information in relation to research being or to be carried out by or on behalf of a public body. It is permissable to refer requesters to already public information.
30 A harm test applies to all exceptions, so that it is only where disclosure poses a risk of actual harm to a protected interest that it may be refused. Score 4 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which is not subject to the harm test 4 NO Sections 16, 29, 31 all contain exceptions for \\\\\\\"contrary to public interest\\\\\\\"
31 There is a mandatory public interest override so that information must be disclosed where this is in the overall public interest, even if this may harm a protected interest. There are ‘hard’ overrides (which apply absolutely), for example for information about human rights, corruption or crimes against humanity.Consider whether the override is subject to overarching limitations, whether it applies to only some exceptions, and whether it is mandatory.4 NO There are public interest overrides to several exemptions, such as Sections 30, 32, 35, 36, 39, 40 There is no broad override per se, it is per exemption.
32 Information must be released as soon as an exception ceases to apply (for example, for after a contract tender process decision has been taken). The law contains a clause stating that exceptions to protect public interests do not apply to information which is over 20 years old.Score 1 point for each2 NO Not mentioned
33 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for consulting with third parties who provided information which is the subject of a request on a confidential basis. Public authorities shall take into account any objections by third parties when considering requests for information, but third parties do not have veto power over the release of information.Score: 1 point for consultation, 1 further point if original time frames must be respected and the law allows for expedited appeals.2 Partially Section 38: (2) Subject to subsection (6), before deciding whether to grant a request to which this section applies, a head shall, not later than 2 weeks after the receipt of the request— (a) if the request is one to which section 35 (3) applies, cause the person who gave the information concerned to the FOI body concerned and, if the head considers it appropriate, the person to whom the information relates, or (b) if the request is one to which section 36 (3) or 37 (5)(a)applies, cause the person to whom the information relates, to be notified, in writing or in such other form as may be determined— (i) of the request and that, apart from this section, it falls, in the public interest, to be granted, (ii) that the person may, not later than 3 weeks after the receipt of the notification, make submissions to the head in relation to the request, and (iii) that the head will consider any such submissions before deciding whether to grant or refuse to grant the request. When the exemptions under Sections 35, 36 or 37 are being applied, the deciding officer must when using the public interest exemption, send a notification of intention to release to persons or bodies, giving that person/body 3 weeks to reply and that reply must be taken into account by the deciding officer in their decision to release.
34 There is a severability clause so that where only part of a record is covered by an exception the remainder must be disclosed. Score 1 point if yes but sometimes can be refused (eg: if deletions render meaningless the document) and 2 points if partial access must always be granted2 Partially Section 18. (1) Where an FOI request would fall to be granted but for the fact that it relates to a record that is an exempt record, by reason of the inclusion in it, with other matter, of particular matter, the head of the FOI body concerned, shall, if it is practicable to do so, prepare a copy, in such form as he or she considers appropriate, of so much of the record as does not consist of the particular matter aforesaid and the request shall be granted by offering the requester access to the copy. (2) Subsection (1) shall not apply in relation to a record if the copy provided for thereby would be misleading. (3) Where a requester is offered access to a copy of part of a record under this section, then (unless the record is one to which section 28 (5), 31 (4), 32 (2), 33 (4), 35 (4), 36 (4) or 37 (6) applies), the notice under section 13 (1) concerned shall specify that such access is offered pursuant to this section and that the copy does not purport to be a copy of the complete record to which the FOI request relates and shall also specify the nature of the matter contained in the record by virtue of which subsection (1) applies to the record. Sometimes can be refused if \\\\\\\"the copy provided for thereby would be misleading\\\\\\\"
35 When refusing to provide access to information, public authorities must a) state the exact legal grounds and reason(s) for the refusal and b) inform the applicant of the relevant appeals procedures.Score Y/N: 1 point for a and 1 point for b2 YES Section 13 (2)(d) if the request aforesaid is refused, whether wholly or in part— (i) the reasons for the refusal, and (ii) unless the refusal is pursuant to section 28 (5), 31 (4), 32 (2), 33 (4), 35 (4), 36 (4) or 37 (6), any provision of this Act pursuant to which the request is refused and the findings on any material issues relevant to the decision and particulars of any matter relating to the public interest taken into consideration for the purposes of the decision,


Appeals

Indicator

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36 The law offers an internal appeal which is simple, free of charge and completed within clear timelines (20 working days or less).Score 2 points if the internal appeal fulfills these criteria, 1 point if an appeal is offered that does not fulfill this criteria, 0 for no internal appeals.2 Partially S.I. No. 484/2014 - Freedom of Information Act 2014 (Fees) Regulations 2014. 4. (1) Subject to paragraph (3)(a), a fee of €30.00 is prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (a)(i) of section 27(13), in respect of a person who makes an application under section 21, not being (a) an application in relation to a decision under section 9 or 10, or (b) an application in relation to a decision to charge a fee or deposit, or a fee or deposit of a particular amount, under section 27.
37 Requesters have the right to lodge an (external) appeal with an independent administrative oversight body (e.g. an information commission or ombudsman). 1 for partial, 2 for yes2 YES Section 22 (2)Subject to this Act, the Commissioner may, on application to him or her in that behalf, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, by a relevant person— (a) review a decision to which this section applies, and (b) following the review, may, as he or she considers appropriate— (i) affirm or vary the decision, or (ii) annul the decision and, if appropriate, make such decision in relation to the matter concerned as he or she considers proper, in accordance with this Act.
38 The member(s) of the oversight body are appointed in a manner that is protected against political interference and have security of tenure so they are protected against arbitrary dismissal (procedurally/substantively) once appointed.Score: 1 point for appointment procedure, 1 point for security of tenure2 YES Section 43 (2) The Commissioner shall be a corporation sole with perpetual succession and an official seal and with power— (a) to sue and be sued, and (b) with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, to acquire, hold and dispose of land or an interest in land, and to acquire, hold and dispose of any other property. (3) The Commissioner shall be independent in the performance of his or her functions. (4) The appointment of a person to be the Commissioner shall be made by the President on the advice of the Government following a resolution passed by Dáil Éireann and by Seanad Éireann recommending the appointment of the person.
39 The oversight body reports to and has its budget approved by the parliament, or other effective mechanisms are in place to protect its financial independence.Score 1 point for reports to parliament, 1 point for budget approved by parliament2 YES Schedule 2. (5). \\\\\\\" The Commissioner shall be paid, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, such remuneration and allowances for expenses as the Minister may from time to time determine. The Minister determines the resources of the Commissioner. This has been an issue for some time. While it is financially independent, it relies on the Minister to approve more resources.
40 There are prohibitions on individuals with strong political connections from being appointed to this body and requirements of professional expertise.Score 1 point for not politically connected, 1 point for professional expertise2 Partially Section 43 (3) The Commissioner shall be independent in the performance of his or her functions. (4) The appointment of a person to be the Commissioner shall be made by the President on the advice of the Government following a resolution passed by Dáil Éireann and by Seanad Éireann recommending the appointment of the person. No specific prohibition to be politically connected, but the Commissioner cannot hold any other political charge, such as being member of the government, European Parliament, etc, while attending the functions of a Commissioner. No mention about the professional expertise asked to perform the functions as a Commissioner (1 point loss).
41 The independent oversight body has the necessary mandate and power to perform its functions, including to review classified documents and inspect the premises of public bodies.Score 1 point for reviewing classified documents, 1 point for inspection powers2 YES 45. (1) The Commissioner may, for the purposes of a review under section 22 or an investigation under section 44 — (a) require any person who, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is in possession of information, or has a record in his or her power or control, that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is relevant to the purposes aforesaid to furnish to the Commissioner any such information or record that is in his or her possession or, as the case may be, power or control and, where appropriate, require the person to attend before him or her for that purpose, and (b) examine and take copies in any form of, or of extracts from any record that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is relevant to the review or investigation and for those purposes take possession of any such record, remove it from the premises and retain it in his or her possession for a reasonable period. (2) The Commissioner may for the purposes of such a review or investigation as aforesaid enter any premises occupied by an FOI body and there— (a) require any person found on the premises to furnish him or her with such information in the possession of the person as he or she may reasonably require for the purposes aforesaid and to make available to him or her any record in his or her power or control that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is relevant to those purposes, and (b) examine and take copies of, or of extracts from, any record made available to him or her as aforesaid or found on the premises. Section 45 (10) prevents the Commissioner from taking documents from police stations.
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 YES Section 22 (14) Subject to this Act, a decision under subsection (2) shall— (a) insofar as it is inconsistent with the decision to which this section applies, have effect in lieu thereof, and (b) be binding on the parties concerned.
43 In deciding an appeal, the independent oversight body has the power to order appropriate remedies for the requester, including the declassification of information. 1 for partial, 2 for fully2 YES Section 44 (1): \\\\\\\"The Commissioner shall keep the operation of this Act under review and may, subject to subsection (2), carry out an investigation at any time into the practices and procedures adopted by public bodies generally or any particular public body or public bodies for the purposes of compliance with_ (a) the provisions of this Act generally, (b) any particular provisions of this Act.\\\\\\\" Section 45(1): “The Commissioner may, for the purposes of a review under section 22 or an investigation under section 44 (a) require any person who, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is in possession of information, or has a record in his or her power or control, that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is relevant to the purposes aforesaid to furnish to the Commissioner any such information or record that is in his or her possession or, as the case may be, power or control and, where appropriate, require the person to attend before him or her for that purpose, and (b) examine and take copies in any form of, or of extracts from any record that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is relevant to the review or investigation and for those purposes take possession of any such record, remove it from the premises and retain it in his or her possession for a reasonable period.” Section 2. “The Commissioner may for the purposes of such a review or investigation as aforesaid enter any premises occupied by a public body and there: (a) require any person found on the premises to furnish him or her with such information in the possession of the person as he or she may reasonably require for the purposes aforesaid and to make available to him or her any record in his or her power or control that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is relevant to those purposes, and (b) examine and take copies of, or of extracts from, any record made available to him or her as aforesaid or found on the premises. […]” These articles seems to give the Commissioner broad powers.
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 YES Section 24 (1): “A party to a review under section 22 or any other person affected by the decision of the Commissioner following such a review may appeal to the High Court on a point of law from the decision. […]\\\\\\\"
45 Appeals to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are free of charge and do not require legal assistance.1 for free, 1 for no lawyer required. 2 Partially S.I. No. 484/2014 - Freedom of Information Act 2014 (Fees) Regulations 2014 (Section 4 (2)) You must pay €50 for an appeal.
46 The grounds for appeal to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are broad (including not only refusals to provide information but also refusals to provide information in the form requested, administrative silence and other breach of timelines, charging excessive fees, etc.).Score 1 point for appealing refusals, additional points for appealing other violations.4 YES Article 34. Section 2: “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commissioner may, on application to him or her in that behalf, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, by a relevant person: (a) review a decision to which this section applies, and(b) following the review, may, as he or she considers appropriate: (i) affirm or vary the decision, or (ii) annul the decision and, if appropriate, make such decision in relation to the matter concerned as he or she considers proper, in accordance with this Act.\\\\\\\" The ground for the external review are broad. If the body fails to reply within 20 working days, you have a right to a free internal review (No 30 euro fee), but this is prior to an appeal to the Commissioner.
47 Clear procedures, including timelines, are in place for dealing with external appeals (oversight/judicial).Score 1 point for clear procedures, 1 point for timelines. 2 YES Section 22 (3) A decision under subsection (2) shall be made as soon as may be and, insofar as practicable, not later than 4 months after the receipt by the Commissioner of the application for the review concerned.
48 In the appeal process (oversight/judicial/) the government bears the burden of demonstrating that it did not operate in breach of the rules.Score Y/N and award 2 points for yes. 2 NO Not mentioned.
49 The external appellate body has the power to impose appropriate structural measures on the public authority (e.g. to conduct more training or to engage in better record management)1 for partial, 2 for fully. 2 NO Not mentioned


Sanctions & Proteccions

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50 Sanctions may be imposed on those who wilfully act to undermine the right to information, including through the unauthorised destruction of information.Score 1 point for sanctions for underming right, 1 point for destruction of documents 2 YES Section 52. Where an FOI request has been made in respect of a record, a person who without lawful excuse and with intention to deceive destroys or materially alters a record shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on summary conviction to a class B fine.
51 There is a system for redressing the problem of public authorities which systematically fail to disclose information or underperform (either through imposing sanctions on them or requiring remedial actions of them).Score 1 point for either remedial action or sanctions, 2 points for both 2 NO Section 44 (2) The Commissioner may at any time carry out an investigation into the practices and procedures adopted by FOI bodies or any particular FOI body or FOI bodies for the purposes of enabling persons to exercise the rights conferred by this Act and facilitating such exercise.”
52 The independent oversight body and its staff are granted legal immunity for acts undertaken in good faith in the exercise or performance of any power, duty or function under the RTI Law. Others are granted similar immunity for the good faith release of information pursuant to the RTI Law.Score 1 for oversight body, 1 for immunity for others2 YES Section 49 (4) Civil or criminal proceedings shall not lie in any court against the Commissioner or a member of the staff of the Commissioner in respect of anything said or done in good faith by the Commissioner or member in the course of the performance or purported performance of a function of the Commissioner or member.
53 There are legal protections against imposing sanctions on those who, in good faith, release information which discloses wrongdoing (i.e. whistleblowers).Score 2 for strong protections, 1 for moderate protections2 YES Whistleblowing is deal with through the Protected Disclosures Act 2014


Promotional measures

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54 Public authorities are required to appoint dedicated officials (information officers) or units with a responsibility for ensuring that they comply with their information disclosure obligations.Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 20. (1) A head may delegate in writing to a member of the staff of the FOI body concerned any of the functions of the head under this Act (other than this section and section 34 ).
55 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, is given overall responsibility for promoting the right to information. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES The Department leads this via FOI.gov.ie. There is no specific element for the Commissioner to promote access.
56 Public awareness-raising efforts (e.g. producing a guide for the public or introducing RTI awareness into schools) are required to be undertaken by law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 8. (1) An FOI body shall— (a) prepare and publish a scheme (“publication scheme”), concerning the publication of information by the body— (i) in conformity with the model publication scheme (if any) referred to in subsection (7), or (ii) in accordance with any guidelines on publication schemes published by the Minister under the code referred to in section 48 , (b) publish information in accordance with its publication scheme, and (c) review and update its publication scheme not later than 3 years after its publication and subsequently not later than each third year thereafter.
57 A system is in place whereby minimum standards regarding the management of records are set and applied. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 Partially 48. (1) The Minister may draw up and publish a code of practice (the “code”) and guidelines (including guidelines in relation to matters contained in the code) for the effective and efficient operation of this Act to assist FOI bodies in the performance of their functions under this Act. (2) The code may include provisions to promote the publication of official and other information held by FOI bodies that might otherwise be the subject of FOI requests. (3) FOI bodies shall have regard to the code and any guidelines in the performance of their functions under this Act. (4) Notice of the making of a code under this section shall be published in Iris Oifigiúil as soon as convenient after the making thereof. The code of practice would be close to this.
58 Public authorities are required to create and update lists or registers of the documents in their possession, and to make these public. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 8 (2) A publication scheme shall include— (a) the classes of information that the FOI body has published or intends to publish, (b) the terms under which it will make such information available and, where the material is not available without charge, the charge, (c) a general description of its structure and organisation, functions, powers and duties, any services it provides for the public and the procedures by which any such services may be availed of by the public, (d) a general description of the classes of records held by the body concerned, giving such particulars as are reasonably necessary to facilitate the exercise of the right of access, (e) the— (i) rules, procedures, practices, guidelines and interpretations used by the body, and (ii) any precedents kept by the body, for the purposes of decisions, determinations or recommendations, under or for the purposes of any enactment or scheme administered by the body with respect to rights, privileges, benefits, obligations, penalties or other sanctions to which members of the public are or may be entitled or subject under the enactment or scheme,
59 Training programs for officials are required Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 8 (11) (a) Each Minister of the Government shall in accordance with the code of practice made under section 48 (if any) ensure that appropriate measures are taken by public bodies under his or her aegis, as respects training of staff, organisational arrangements and such other matters as the Minister considers appropriate (including in respect of the code of practice (if any)), for the purpose of facilitating compliance by those bodies with this Act.
60 Public authorities are required to report annually on the actions they have taken to implement their disclosure obligations. This includes statistics on requests received and how they were dealt with. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES 44. (1) The Commissioner shall keep the operation of this Act under review and may carry out an investigation at any time into the practices and procedures adopted by FOI bodies generally or any particular FOI body or FOI bodies for the purposes of compliance with— (a) the provisions of this Act generally, or (b) any particular provisions of this Act. Public authorities generally comply with statistics collections etc.
61 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, has an obligation to present a consolidated report to the legislature on implementation of the law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 47. (1) The Commissioner shall publish— (a) any decision in relation to any review under section 22 , and (b) when proceedings have concluded, a summary of any appeal under section 24 . (2) The Commissioner shall annually prepare a report in relation to his or her activities under this Act in the previous year, append to the report a copy of any report furnished to him or her under section 34 (11), and cause copies of the report and copies of any reports furnished under section 34 (11) to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. (3) The Commissioner may, if he or she considers it appropriate to do so in the public interest or in the interests of any person, prepare and publish a report in relation to any investigation, or review carried out or other function performed, by him or her under this Act or any matter relating to or arising in the course of such an investigation, review or performance. No legal requirement to report, but generally keep statistics.