Case number: OIC-54659-B2D9J5

Whether AGS was justified in refusing access to records relating to the taking of the applicant’s finger prints and palm prints on the ground that, pursuant to Schedule 1, Part 1(n) of the FOI Act, the Act does not apply to the records sought

13 September 2019

Background

On 3 December 2018 the applicant made a request to AGS for all records relating to the taking of his finger prints and palm prints. On 28 January 2019 he wrote again to AGS and noted that he had not received either an acknowledgement of, or a response to, his request. He sought an internal review of the deemed refusal of his request.

On 25 March 2019, this Office received an application for a review of the matter as the applicant had not received a response to his request for internal review. In correspondence with this Office, AGS stated that it did not receive the original request and it provided details of a number of exchanges of correspondence it had with the applicant around the same time.

Subsequently, on 15 April 2019, AGS issued its effective position on the original request to the applicant. It refused the request on the ground that the FOI Act does not apply to the records sought. On 16 June 2019 the applicant confirmed that he required a review of the refusal of his request.

I have now concluded my review of the decision of AGS. In conducting my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between AGS and the applicant as outlined above and to correspondence between this Office and both AGS and the applicant on the matter.

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with whether AGS was justified in refusing access to records relating to the taking of the applicant’s finger prints and palm prints on the ground that the FOI Act does not apply in respect of the records sought, pursuant to Schedule 1, Part 1(n) of the Act.

Analysis and Findings

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 information sought relates to operational matters, as the information sought was in relation to fingerprinting and Garda PULSE records. It stated that this type of information does not constitute administrative records insofar as the FOI Act relates to AGS.

Having regard to the nature of the request and the description of the records sought, I am satisfied that the records 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.

Decision

Having carried out a review under section 22(2) of the FOI Act, I hereby affirm the decision of AGS in this case.

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