Case number: OIC-111132-B9W1L2

Whether GSOC was justified in refusing the applicant’s request for any personal data pertaining to him logged during the period from January 2019 to present on the ground that the FOI Act does not apply in respect of the records sought, pursuant to Part 1(y), Schedule 1 of the Act

17 August 2021

Background

In a request dated 5 December 2020, the applicant sought a copy of any personal data pertaining to him logged during the period from January 2019 to present and in particular, any information that would explain Garda actions during May of 2019, when he came to the attention of the Gardaí. On 11 December 2020, GSOC refused the request on the ground that the records sought are excluded from the scope of the FOI Act, pursuant to Part 1(y), Schedule 1 of the Act. The applicant sought an internal review of that decision, following which GSOC affirmed its original decision. On 3 August 2020, the applicant sought a review by this Office of GSOC’s decision.

I have now completed my review in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act.  In carrying out my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between GSOC and the applicant as outlined above and to the correspondence between this Office and both parties on the matter. I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with whether GSOC was justified in refusing the applicant’s request for any personal data pertaining to him logged during the period from January 2019 to present on the ground that the FOI Act does not apply in respect of the records sought, pursuant to Part 1(y), Schedule 1 of the Act.

Preliminary Matter

In his application for review, the applicant explained why he is seeking access to the information sought. Section 13(4) of the Act provides that in deciding whether to grant or refuse a request, any reason that the requester gives for the request shall be disregarded. This means that I cannot have regard to the applicant's motives for seeking access to the information in question, except in so far as those motives reflect what might be regarded as public interest factors in favour of release of the information where the Act requires a consideration of the public interest (not relevant in this case).

Analysis and Findings

Section 6(2)(a) of the FOI Act provides that an entity specified in Part 1 of Schedule 1 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 certain specified records that are excluded. If the records sought come within the descriptions of the exclusions in Part 1, then the Act does not apply and no right of access exists.

Schedule 1, Part 1(y) provides that GSOC is not a public body for the purposes of the Act in relation to records concerning an examination or investigation carried out by it under Part 4 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (the 2005 Act). 

In its submission to this Office, GSOC said that following a search of its records, it established that it held personal information for the applicant only on a specified complaint file. It said the applicant had made a complaint to it which, following an examination, was deemed inadmissible under section 87 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 (which is provided for under Part 4 of that Act), and no further action was taken.

Having regard to the nature and description of the records sought in this case, I am satisfied that they are captured by the exclusion in Part 1(y) of Schedule 1. Accordingly, I find that GSOC was justified in its decision to refuse the applicant’s request on the ground that the records sought are excluded from the scope of the FOI Act, pursuant to Part 1(y), Schedule 1 of the Act.

Decision

Having carried out a review under section 22(2) of the FOI Act 2014, I hereby affirm the decision of GSOC to refuse the applicant’s request for any personal data pertaining to him logged during the period from January 2019 to present on the ground that the FOI Act does not apply in respect of the records sought, pursuant to Part 1(y), Schedule 1 of the Act.

Right of Appeal

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.

Stephen Rafferty

Senior Investigator