5. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to outline his plans to reform freedom of information legislation. (Question 53245/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The questions relate to the current freedom of information legislation. Is the Minister satisfied that the legislation is functioning properly? Will the Minister consider amending section 44 of the Act so that he can instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operation of the Act?
My interactions with numerous freedom of information departments, State bodies and Departments lead me to believe the legislation is not working. I do not believe this so...

9. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has satisfied himself with the functioning of the freedom of information system in place under the Freedom of Information Act 2014; if he will consider amending section 44 of the Act to confer power on the Minister to instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operations of the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53475/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The questions relate to the current freedom of information legislation. Is the Minister satisfied that the legislation is functioning properly? Will the Minister consider amending section 44 of the Act so that he can instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operation of the Act?
My interactions with numerous freedom of information departments, State bodies and Departments lead me to believe the legislation is not working. I do not believe this so...

18. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has satisfied himself that section 27 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is functioning properly; if all agencies that come under freedom of information legislation following the Act are applying fees and charges for FOI requests in an open and transparent manner; if guidelines are issued to the agencies with regard to calculating fees and charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53476/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The questions relate to the current freedom of information legislation. Is the Minister satisfied that the legislation is functioning properly? Will the Minister consider amending section 44 of the Act so that he can instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operation of the Act?
My interactions with numerous freedom of information departments, State bodies and Departments lead me to believe the legislation is not working. I do not believe this so...

29. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has satisfied himself with the current functioning of the freedom of information system under the 2014 Act; his plans to amend section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 to give power to him to instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operations of the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47196/17 asked on 09 Nov 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As specified in section 43(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2014, the Information Commissioner is fully independent in the performance of his functions, including those under section 44 of the Act.  I have no plans to amend the Act to allow for a Minister to instruct the Commissioner in this regard. To do so would adversely affect the important independent role of the Commissioner.
However, as the Deputy may be aware, an ex...

31. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has satisfied himself that section 27 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is functioning properly; if all agencies that come under freedom of information following the 2014 Act are applying fees and charges in respect of freedom of information requests in an open and transparent manner; if guidelines are issued to the agencies with regard to calculating fees and charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47197/17 asked on 09 Nov 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Section 27 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014 Act relates to fees and charges. Among the key reforms of the FOI Act was the removal of the requirement to pay up-front fees for making FOI requests to public bodies and the significant reduction in the cost of applying for internal reviews and appeals to the Information Commissioner. 
In addition, in relation to non-personal requests, a minimum threshold of €101 was in...

22. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to amend the current legislation governing freedom of information to include a requirement that all freedom of information requests and responses be published as is the position in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26054/17 asked on 01 Jun 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As the Deputy will be aware, section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 obliges FOI bodies to prepare and publish a publication scheme, setting out information that they will publish as a matter of course.  My Department has prepared a Model Publication Scheme pursuant to this section, which includes among the information to be published on an ongoing basis, a disclosure log containing details of FOI requests received for...

192. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to extend the remit of the Freedom of Information Acts to cover the Citizens’ Assembly in view of the absolute need for transparency in its operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15883/17 asked on 30 Mar 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Freedom of Information Act 2014 extended the remit of the legislation to a further 70 public bodies, bringing the overall total to some 600 bodies comprehended by the Act.  The Act provides a very broad definition of public bodies at Section 6(1) and further provides that all new public bodies comprehended by this definition will automatically come under freedom of information (FOI) legislation, unless specifically exempted...

628. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if the expert water commission is covered by the Freedom of Information Acts. (Question 25858/16 asked on 16 Sep 2016 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Expert Commission on Domestic Public Water Services is covered by the Freedom of Information Acts. 
 ...

50. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the actions his Department has taken to resolve the disagreement on the interpretation of the Freedom of Information Acts between the Central Bank of Ireland and the Office of the Information Commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13082/16 asked on 31 May 2016 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As the Deputy is aware, a partial exemption is provided in Schedule 1 Part 1 of the Freedom of Information Act for the Central Bank. I understand that the Central Bank considered that any records or parts of records which it believed were comprehended by the partial exemption were excluded with no right of appeal. 
When the Office of the Information Commissioner brought the interpretation of the Act by the Central Bank to th...

206. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide an update regarding the Freedom of Information Act; if freedom of information fees are still applicable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44233/14 asked on 18 Nov 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Freedom of Information Act 2014 became law on 14 October 2014, the date it was signed by the President. All new FOI requests received after that date are being processed under the new Act.
The €15 initial application fee was abolished from 14 October when the new FOI Act came into effect. Other than in relation to the initial application fee, all elements of the new fees regime came into effect once the new fees order was ...

211. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to include a schedule within the Freedom of Information Bill 2013 or otherwise identify FOI bodies that meet the description in section 32(3)(a)(ii)(I) of that Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 28528/14 asked on 01 Jul 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): It is not my intention to include a schedule within the Freedom of Information Bill 2013 or to otherwise identify bodies encompassed by the provision mentioned by the Deputy. A large number of public bodies as defined under FOI legislation could be subject to this provision. Seeking to identify such bodies in a schedule to the legislation or otherwise could have the unintended consequence of excluding particular public bodies fr...

72. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the changes his Department has made since 2011 to the Freedom of Information legislation, including the changes made to publicly funded semi-State companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26509/14 asked on 19 Jun 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Freedom of Information Bill 2013 which passed Committee Stage in the Dáil last November and is scheduled for Report Stage on 16 and 17 July reflects the outcome of a detailed and comprehensive review of Ireland’s FOI legislation.  In overall terms the Bill comprises a substantial updating and modernisation of FOI legislation based on international best practice, it extends FOI to all public bodies, consolidates FOI law into ...

325. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide an update on the freedom of information legislation. (Question 22992/14 asked on 27 May 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Freedom of Information Bill 2013, which comprises a comprehensive reform and modernisation of Ireland’s FOI regime completed Committee Stage in the Dail last November. I am currently finalising the Report Stage amendments for the Bill which, following approval by Government, will be published for consideration by Dáil Éireann in due course. 
 ...

234. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will clarify a situation regarding freedom of information and a proposal from a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19234/14 asked on 30 Apr 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 and 246 together.
The reform of Freedom of Information legislation is central to the Government’s goal of enhancing public governance through a significant strengthening of openness, transparency and accountability of government and public administration.  In that regard, the Deputies may wish to note the speech I delivered at a Public Affairs Ireland Conference last month on this objective w...

246. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to reinstate section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 1997; if not, his reasons for same; if he has received advice that sections 15 and 16 of the FOI Act 1997 should be changed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19691/14 asked on 30 Apr 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 and 246 together.
The reform of Freedom of Information legislation is central to the Government’s goal of enhancing public governance through a significant strengthening of openness, transparency and accountability of government and public administration.  In that regard, the Deputies may wish to note the speech I delivered at a Public Affairs Ireland Conference last month on this objective w...

75. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reasons section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 1997, which requires public bodies to publish and make available the criteria they use for making decisions, has been excluded in the current Freedom of Information Bill 2013 and replaced by section 8; if his attention has been drawn to transparency issues in section 8 of the new Bill with regards to the publication schemes which seek to replace the original Act’s section 16, giving power to public bodies to decide themselves what information will be made public and in addition granting power to him to decide what information is made public and to revise such information as he sees fit; his views on whether the new Bill will enhance arbitrary decision-making as opposed to transparent decision-making; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18166/14 asked on 16 Apr 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The reform of Freedom of Information legislation is central to the Government’s goal of enhancing public governance through a significant strengthening of openness, transparency and accountability of government and public administration.  In that regard, the Deputy may wish to note the speech I delivered at a Public Affairs Ireland Conference earlier this month on this objective which is available at www.per.gov.ie/speeches.  
I...

76. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will publish the code of practice and guidelines as cited by him, in relation to the Freedom of Information Bill 2013 which have still not been published nine months after the publication of the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18167/14 asked on 16 Apr 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): I intend to submit the draft Code of Practice to Government shortly with a view to publication for public consultation.  My intention is that the Code of Practice will come into effect on enactment of the FOI Bill.  Clearly it has been and will continue to be necessary for the draft Code to be amended to reflect any amendments that are made to the Bill as it progresses through the Oireachtas.
 ...

251. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if any review is being carried out on the freedom of information legislation; the main purpose of this review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16392/14 asked on 08 Apr 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Freedom of Information Bill 2013 which passed Committee Stage in the Dail last November and is awaiting Report Stage reflects the outcome of a detailed and comprehensive review of Ireland’s FOI legislation.  In overall terms the Bill comprises a substantial updating and modernisation of FOI legislation based on international best practice, it extends FOI to all public bodies, consolidates FOI law into a single Bill as well a...

266. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider bringing amendments to the Freedom of Information Bill, in relation to plans to increase the price of FOI requests and in relation to the inclusion of a separate and distinct information clause, to ensure that the Bill will not limit public access to information and to avoid the creation of a culture of opaqueness around documents that should rightly be accessible to everyone at a fair and reasonable cost; if his attention has been drawn to concerns raised that any increased expense in seeking information will have a disproportionate effect on persons who are less well off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5676/14 asked on 04 Feb 2014 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): I am currently developing proposals in  relation to the matters raised in the Deputy’s question and following approval by Government will publish the proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information Bill, 2013 for consideration by Dáil Éireann in the context of Report Stage for the Bill.
 ...

104. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform where the index of precedents requirement is covered in the Freedom of Information Bill 2013. (Question 49774/13 asked on 20 Nov 2013 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): It is envisaged that specific precedents that may be relevant to the performance of a public body’s statutory functions will be encompassed as appropriate under the publication scheme to be made under section 8 of the Freedom of Information Bill 2013.
 ...

275. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will withdraw his amendments on the Freedom of Information Bill as they are damaging to democracy and transparency. (Question 49586/13 asked on 19 Nov 2013 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): As I outlined in detail in the course of the recent Committee Stage, the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, 2013 will represent a significant strengthening in Ireland’s FOI regime leading to increased transparency, openness and accountability of public bodies. As the Deputy will be aware this is being achieved by:
- reversing the main additional exemptions included in the 2003 Freedom of Information Act; 
- extending FOI to all...

214. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the Freedom of Information Bill (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44693/13 asked on 22 Oct 2013 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): I understand that this question relates to a concern that Section 17(4) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill 2013 as published might have unintended effects on FOI requests for electronic records. 
An important priority in the Bill is in fact to update and modernise the legislative framework for FOI so that it supports and facilitates requests for electronic records. Subject to further consultation with the Office of the P...

29. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to restrict the National Treasury Management Agency and its subsidiaries the National Pension Reserve Fund and the National Assets Management Agency from the full terms of the proposed freedom of information legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42483/13 asked on 09 Oct 2013 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Freedom of Information Bill 2013, which I am currently sponsoring, passed Second Stage in the Dail last Thursday (3 October 2013). The Bill as currently drafted provides that FOI will apply to the bodies referred to in the Deputy’s question.
It was necessary to provide certain exemptions to these bodies to guard against the possibility that release of certain records under FOI would result in significant risk of a serious c...

270. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in view of the fact that the new freedom of information Act will now include organisations that are currently substantially funded by the State, if this will include voluntary housing agencies. (Question 41802/13 asked on 08 Oct 2013 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Freedom of Information Bill 2013, which I am currently sponsoring, passed Second Stage in the Dail last Thursday (3 October 2013).
The Bill as currently drafted provides at Section 7 for the application of FOI to non-public bodies which are in receipt of significant funding from the State. This will be progressed in due course by way of Ministerial Order subject to consultation with the relevant Departments to agree on crit...

272. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if details held by the Garda on those persons guilty of sex offences and who are subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 will be made subject to freedom of information legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42031/13 asked on 08 Oct 2013 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The Freedom of Information Bill 2013, which I am currently sponsoring, passed Second Stage in the Dail last Thursday (3 October 2013).
The Bill as currently drafted provides, in accordance with the Programme for Government and the Government decision of July 2012 on the General Scheme of the Bill, that An Garda Síochána will be subject to freedom of information in relation to its administrative records subject to security exempt...