Information Commissioner, Peter Tyndall, has welcomed the Government's proposal to abolish the €15 application fee for making FOI requests. Both he and the former Commissioner, Emily O'Reilly, have previously publicly expressed their view that the application fee acted as a disincentive to members of the public seeking access to information held by public bodies.
The Commissioner considers that the charging of a fee ran contrary to the spirit and purpose of FOI which, as the long title to the FOI Act explains, is "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." The Commissioner also welcomes the fact that the decision to abolish the application fee brings Ireland's FOI regime into line with its international counterparts.
The Information Commissioner further welcomes the decision to publish a draft Code of Practice for FOI for public consultation. He notes, in particular, the commitment in the draft Code to have a strong, expert and authoritative leadership role exercised by the FOI Central Policy Unit (CPU) in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to guide, support, provide knowledge and expertise to ensure the effective and efficient operation of FOI in public bodies.
In his Annual Report for 2013, the Commissioner stated his belief that the Code must be complemented by an adequately resourced, effective and readily available support service, particularly for those bodies coming within remit for the first time and that the CPU has a critical role to play in offering support in the implementation of the new Code.
For media queries:
Head of Communications
01 639 5610
086 023 1420
For queries on the FOI Act:
Office of the Information Commissioner
01 639 5680