Case number: OIC-53370-S0V0D8 (190113)
3 July 2019
On 22 January 2019 the applicant submitted a request to AGS for all information relating to the death of his uncle in 1922. In a decision dated 25 January 2019, AGS refused the request on the ground that it is a public body only in respect of administrative records relating to human resources, finance or procurement matters and that the records sought were not considered to be such administrative records. Nevertheless, it suggested that the Garda Museum and Archives may be in a position to assist him outside of the FOI process. The applicant sought an internal review of that decision on 7 February 2019 following which AGS affirmed its original decision. On 6 March 2019 the applicant sought a review by this Office of that decision.
I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision. In conducting the review, I have had regard to correspondence between AGS and the applicant as outlined above, to the applicant's correspondence with this Office, and to communications between this Office and AGS on the matter.
This review is concerned solely with whether AGS was justified in refusing access to records relating to the death of the applicant’s uncle in 1922 on the ground that the FOI Act does not apply in respect of the records sought, in accordance with Schedule 1, Part 1(n) of the Act.
Section 6(2)(a) of the FOI Act provides that an entity specified in Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Act shall, subject to the provisions of that Part, be a public body for the purposes of the Act. Schedule 1, Part 1 contains details of bodies that are partially included for the purposes of the Act and also details of the certain specified records that are excluded. If the records sought come within the description of the exclusions in Part 1, then the Act does not apply and no right of access exists to such records held by the body.
Schedule 1, Part 1(n) provides that AGS is not a public body for the purposes of the FOI Act other than in relation to administrative records relating to human resources, or finance or procurement matters. In other words, the only records held by AGS that are subject to the FOI Act are those that relate to administrative matters concerning human resources, finance, or procurement. In accordance with Part 1(n), all other records held by AGS are excluded.
In its submission to this Office, AGS stated that the thrust of the information sought in this case relates to operational matters seeking information on how an incident happened, witness statements and inquiry results. It stated that this type of information does not constitute administrative records insofar as the FOI legislation relates to AGS.
Having regard to the nature of the request and the description of the records sought, I am satisfied, should they exist, that they would concern the core functions of AGS, as opposed to administrative matters relating to human resources, or finance or procurement. Accordingly, I find that AGS was justified in its decision to refuse access to the records sought on the ground that they are specifically excluded from the scope of the FOI Act.
Having carried out a review under section 22(2) of the FOI Act, I hereby affirm the decision of AGS in this case.
Section 24 of the FOI Act sets out detailed provisions for an appeal to the High Court by a party to a review, or any other person affected by the decision. In summary, such an appeal, normally on a point of law, must be initiated not later than four weeks after notice of the decision was given to the person bringing the appeal.