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Freedom of Information

What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?

Freedom of Information, or FOI, refers to rights provided to every person under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. The 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.

 How does FOI work?         

The Act requires FOI 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. Also, FOI 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.

 What records can be requested?

Under the Act, the following records may be accessible:


•    All records created after the Act commenced on 21st April 1998
•    All personal records regardless of when they were created
•    All staff records created after 21st April 1995

 What Information can I get access to?

Any official information held by public bodies can be sought under the Act.
However, in order to allow FOI bodies to properly conduct their business, 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:

•    Government meetings
•    law enforcement and security
•    confidential and commercially sensitive information
•    personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request)

 

 How do I make a Freedom of Information Request to the Agriculture Appeals Office?

You should send a request, in writing, to:

The FOI Officer, Agriculture Appeals Office,
Kilminchy Court
Dublin Road
Portlaoise
Co Laois
Tel: +353 (57) 8631900
Email: appeals@agriappeals.gov.ie  

 Your request should include the following:

  • A statement that the request is being made under the FOI Acts;
  • As much information as possible about the records being sought;
  • In what format you wish to receive any records released
  • The appropriate fee.

 How much will it cost?

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides for a completely new FOI fees regime.  The Ministerial Order establishing the new fees regime (S.I. 531 of 2014) can be found here.  The following is a summary of the new fee structure in respect of non-personal requests:

  • The €15 application fee has been abolished
  • There is a minimum threshold of €101 below which no search, retrieval and copying fees can be charged. Once the charge reaches €101, full fees apply;
  • There is a cap on the amount of search, retrieval and copying fees that can be charged of €500;
  • There is a further upper limit on estimated search, retrieval and copying fees at €700 above which an FOI body can refuse to process a request, unless the requester is prepared to refine the request to bring the search, retrieval and copying fees below the limit;
  • The fee for internal review under Section 21 is now €30 (€10 for medical card holders and their dependants)
  • The fee for appeals to the Information Commissioner under Section 22 is now €50 (€15 for medical card holders and their dependants)

 How soon can a person making a request for records expect a reply?

Under the Acts, 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 Acts to mean 5 consecutive weekdays, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.  There are some limited situations under the FOI Acts, which could mean that the making of a decision could take longer than four weeks.  If this occurs, you will be notified in writing.

 

If you have not received a reply within 4 weeks, you are automatically entitled to consider that the Agriculture Appeals Office has refused to grant your request and you may immediately appeal to the Agriculture Appeals Office for a review on the matter.

 What if I am not satisfied with the decision on my FOI request?

You may appeal any decision issued by the Agriculture Appeals Office by writing to The FOI Officer, Agriculture Appeals Office, Kilminchy Court, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois seeking an internal review of the matter.  A fee of €75 may apply for such an appeal.

 You should make your appeal within 4 weeks from the date of response (although late appeals may be permitted in certain circumstances).  The appeal will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by the Freedom of Information Unit and a decision will be communicate to you within 3 weeks.

 What if I am not satisfied with the decision on internal review?

You may appeal the decision within six months by writing to the Information Commissioner.  If you make and appeal the Information Commissioner will fully investigate and consider the matter and issue a fresh decision.  All appeals should be addressed to:

The Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2.
Tel:         +353 1 639 5689
LoCall:        1890 22 30 30
Fax:        +353 1 639 5674
Email:        info@oic.ie

A fee of €150 may apply for such an application.

 Where can I get more information?

Further information can be obtained from:

The Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2.
Tel:         +353 1 639 5689
LoCall:        1890 22 30 30
Fax:        +353 1 639 5674
Email:        info@oic.ie

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,
Central Policy Unit,
Floor 3,
7-9 Merrion Row,
Dublin 2.
Tel:         +353 1 631 8258

 

Fax:        +353 1 604 5750
Email:       cpu@per.gov.ie

FOI Act Sections 15 and 16 Reference Booklet (doc 27Kb) 

FOI Application Form (doc 15Kb)