Freedom of Information
What is Freedom of Information?
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act came into effect on 21 April, 1998. The Freedom of Information Act 2014 was enacted on 14 October, 2014.
Under FOI you have a right to:
- access records held by a Government Department or certain public bodies
- request correction of personal information relating to you held by a Government Department or certain public bodies where it is inaccurate, incomplete or misleading
- obtain reasons for a decision made by a Government Department or certain public bodies where the decision affects you
What records can I ask for under FOI?
You can ask for the following records held by a Department or certain bodies:
- any records relating to you personally, whenever created
- all other records created after 21 April, 1998
A ‘record’ can be a paper document, information held on computer, printouts, maps, plans, microfilm, microfiche, audio-visual material, etc.
You do not have to give a reason as to why you want access to particular records, and the Government department or body concerned must give you an explanation if it refuses you access to any record that you have looked for. A decision on your FOI application must normally be made within 20 working days.
If you have a specific question on making an FOI request to this Department, please visit our Freedom of Information FAQ.
For more comprehensive information on Freedom of Information including the text of the FOI Acts, please visit the FOI Central Policy Unit website at www.foi.gov.ie.
Access to Information on the Environment
Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)
European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007 and S.I. No. 662 of 2011) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations), give legal rights to those seeking to access information on the environment from public authorities.
Under these regulations, information relating to the environment held by, or for, a public authority must be made available on request, subject to certain exceptions. The AIE Regulations provide a definition of environmental information; outlines the manner in which requests for information may be submitted to public authorities and the manner in which public authorities are required to deal with requests.
How to make an AIE application
When making a request for information under the AIE Regulations, you are required to:
state that the application is being made under the AIE Regulations and submit it in writing or electronic form;
provide your contact details;
state, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental information required, and
if you require the information in a specific format or manner of access, you should specify this in your request.
All requests under the FOI Acts should be addressed to:
Department of Justice and Equality
51 St. Stephen's Green
|Telephone:||+ 353 1 6028202 ext. 8408/8417|
|Lo-Call:||1890 221 227 ext. 8408/8417|
There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations. However, the Department may charge a reasonable fee for supplying the information requested. This may include the costs of compiling, copying, printing or posting of information. There is no charge for applying for an internal review.
It costs €150 euro to take an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, or €50 euro if you are the holder, or dependent of a holder of a medical card, or a third party appealing the decision to release certain information.
Requirements for dealing with requests
In general, the Department is required to respond to an AIE request within one month of receipt of the request. Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, the Department is unable to respond within the one month timeframe, we will write to the applicant within the month, indicating when a response will issue. This date should not be more than two months from the receipt of the original request.
If the Department does not have the information requested; it can either transfer the request to another public authority or advise the applicant of where it believes the request should be directed. In either case, it is required to notify the applicant.
Appealing a decision
Under Article 11 of the AIE Regulations you have a right to seek an internal review of the initial decision. You may also request an internal review if you have not received a response within the appropriate timeframe. An internal review must be requested within one month of receipt of the original decision (the public authority may extend this timeframe but is not required to do so). There is no charge for requesting an internal review.
An internal review involves a complete reconsideration of the matter by a member of the staff of the public authority, who may affirm, vary or annul the original decision made.
A written outcome of the review informing you of the decision, the reason for the decision and advising you of your right of appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, including the time limits and fees associated with such an appeal, will be issued to you within one month of the date of receipt of the request for the review.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI). You must appeal within one month of receiving the decision on the internal review from the public authority. However, the Commissioner may extend this time limit in individual cases.