Freedom of Information and the Garda Inspectorate
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2014 was enacted on 14 October, 2014. Under the Act, FOI was extended to a range of public bodies, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate. The Act asserts the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.
While the Inspectorate comes under the Act with effect from 14 April 2015, only records created by the Inspectorate on or after the 21 April 2008, are subject to FOI.
FOI Model Publication Scheme is available here.
What information can I request?
FOI applies to all public bodies that conform to the definition of a public body under Section 6 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. A number of bodies, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, are designated as exempt or part exempt under the Act. The relevant part of the Act that deals with this exemption is Schedule 1 which states:
Section 6 does not include a reference to—
(o) the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, insofar as it relates to records concerning an inspection or inquiry carried out by that Inspectorate under section 117(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Therefore records related to inspections or inquiries cannot be released under FOI. Records held relating to the administration of the Inspectorate can be requested.
How do I make an FOI request?
Write to the FOI Officer, Garda Síochána Inspectorate, 87 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 or email: email@example.com. The main switchboard for the Garda Inspectorate is (01) 4086500.
In your correspondence you should:
- State that you are making the request under the FOI Act
- Give as much information as possible about the information you require
- Specify how you would prefer to receive the records - as paper copies, electronic copies or in another format
When can I expect a response?
Requests will be acknowledged within 10 working days of receipt giving, inter alia, contact details of the person handling the request. A final decision on your request will be sent to you within 20 working days of receipt. If difficulty is experienced in identifying the records required, the staff of the Garda Inspectorate will be in touch with you at the earliest opportunity to clarify the request.
What if I am not satisfied with the decision on my FOI request?
You may appeal any FOI decision to an Internal Reviewer within the Garda Inspectorate.
You should normally make your appeal within 4 weeks from the date of the decision. The appeal will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by a more senior member of staff of the Inspectorate and a decision will be notified to you within 3 weeks.
Any appeal should be sent in writing to:
FOI Internal Reviewer
Garda Síochána Inspectorate
87 St. Stephen’s Green
What if I am not satisfied with the decision on internal review?
You may appeal a decision within six months by writing to the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you make an appeal, the Information Commissioner will fully investigate and consider the matter and issue a fresh decision. All appeals should be addressed to:
The Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street
Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689
Locall: 1890 25 32 38
Do I have to pay?
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides for a completely new FOI fees regime.
In the case of requests which relate to non-personal information there are charges applied for search, retrieval and copying. The relevant section of the Act here is Section 27(2) and these fees relate to:
- Determining whether it holds the information requested;
- Locating the information or documents containing the information
- Retrieving such information or documents
- Extracting the information from the files, documents, electronic or other information sources containing both it and other material not relevant to the request, and
- Preparing a schedule specifying the records for consideration for release
In most cases there are no search, retrieval and copying charges where the request relates to your own personal records. However the Act does allow that in situations where the request relates to a significant number of records that a charge may be levied having regard to the circumstances of the requester.
A charge applies to reviews and appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner concerning access to non-personal records. There are reductions for medical card holders. This will be notified to you at the appropriate time by the relevant public body.
Information in relation to fees is available on the Central Policy Unit website here.