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Home : FAQs : Freedom of Information

What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?

The What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides a right for each person to:

  • seek access to records held by a body to which the FOI Act applies – known as an FOI body;
  • have official records relating to himself/herself amended where incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
  • seek to obtain a record of reasons for decisions affecting himself/herself.

What can I ask for?

The FOI Act is designed to obtain access to records of an organisation. You can ask for any of the following.

  • Records relating to you personally, whenever created.
  • All other records created after the effective date (21st Oct 1998 for local authorities).

However, in order to allow FOI bodies to properly conduct their business, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release, certain types (or parts of) records in some circumstances. These are set out in the Act. Among the key exemptions are records relating to:

  • law enforcement, security and legal advice
  • confidential and/or commercially sensitive information
  • personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request)
  • certain functions and negotiations of FOI Bodies at a point in time
  • there are also certain restricted records that the Council must not release under the Act.

How to and when to apply?

It is important to note that you may not need to use the FOI Act to request information from an FOI body. A large amount of material is already available to the public through websites, information leaflets, publications and responses to enquiries.

If the records you require are not readily available by other means, you must make your request in writing to the FOI Unit of the body and your application should refer to the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and specify the records sought.

If your request does not mention the Act, it will be dealt with as an ordinary request for information. If access to a record is required in a particular form (for example, photocopy or scanned document) you should specify this in your request.

Broad or non-specific requests:

Being as specific as you can when making the request makes it more likely that the request will be accepted, as it helps the Council to more easily identify the records you require. Where possible, for example, try to indicate a time period for which you wish to access records (for example, records between December 2017 and February 2018) or other specific information to assist retrieval of records, such as the name of the Department or Section you understand may hold the records you are interested in accessing. In some cases you may even be able to name the specific records that you wish to access.

Where an applicant fails to be specific in their request with the result that the request is voluminous or excessively broad, the Council may refuse it under Section 15(1)(c) of the Act on the grounds that the request would, by reason of the number or nature of the records concerned cause a substantial and unreasonable interference with or disruption of work of a Section of the Council.
Where this arises the Council will offer to assist the requester in making a request that can avoid refusal on the ground above.
However, being as specific as possible will reduce the possibility of refusal of the FOI request or may avoid or reduce charges to retrieve information, see below on charges.

To apply:

More information and application forms for FOI requests are available at Kildare County Council’s website: http://kildare.ie/CountyCouncil/CorporateServices/FreedomofInformation/
Requests should be sent to foi@kildarecoco.ie

Do I have to pay for getting information under FOI?

Making an FOI Request:

There is no longer any fee for making an FOI request to a Local Authority.

Charges for processing requests involving significant workloads:

The Council is obliged to apply charges where the cost of retrieving records is significant.
When the request is for personal information there are no charges unless there are a significant number of records. In the case of requests which relate to non-personal information charges may be applied for search retrieval and copying, depending on volumes involved. The relevant section of the Act here is Section 27(2) and these charges relate to time spent on what is referred to as Search, Retrieval and Copying (SRC):

(a)   Determining whether it holds the information requested;
(b)   Locating the information or documents containing the information
(c)   Retrieving such information or documents
(d)   Extracting the information from the files, documents, electronic or other
       information sources containing both it and material not relevant to the request,
(e)   Preparing a schedule specifying the records for consideration for release.

In relation to such charges there is a minimum threshold of €101 below which no search, retrieval and copying charge can be charged. Once the charge reaches the €101 full charges apply. 

There is a cap on the amount that can be charged and this is set at €500. 

There is also a further upper ceiling limit on estimated search, retrieval and copying charge set at €700 above which a body can refuse to process a request unless the requester is prepared to refine the request.

The Council encourages requesters to make specific and focused requests so as to more easily identify records of interest and reduce or avoid charges. Where applicants do not make requests of this nature charges will be applicable or the request may be refused, in certain circumstances.

Fees for review or appeal:
There are fees which apply for an internal review under Section 22 and for appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Fee Type Standard Fee Medical Card holders
Internal Review for Non -  Personal Information €30 €10
Seeking an Internal Review for Personal Information No Charge No charge
Review by Information Commissioner €50 €15

More information on fees is here: http://kildare.ie/CountyCouncil/corporateservices/FreedomofInformation/SummaryofFees/ 

What timelines are generally involved in an FOI Decision?

Under the Act, the FOI body must acknowledge a request for records within 2 weeks and, in most cases, respond to it within 4 weeks. If a third party is involved, there may be another 3 weeks before you receive a response.
More information on time periods under the Act are available here: http://kildare.ie/CountyCouncil/corporateservices/FreedomofInformation/TimeLimits/

Can I seek a review or appeal a decision?

Yes. If you are not satisfied with the decision made (or did not receive a decision) you can seek an internal review of the decision which is a complete and new review of your request by someone more senior in the Council. The review decision must be made within 3 weeks. An application for review of a decision should be addressed to the FOI Unit of the body involved and submitted in writing at foi@kildarecoco.ie

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome you can appeal this decision to:

Office of the Information Commissioner; 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, D02 HE97
Opening Hours: 9.15 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday | Tel: +353 (0)1 639 5689
Homepage: http://www.oic.ie  | Contact Form: http://www.oic.ie/contact/
Email: info@oic.ie

Where can you get more information regarding the Freedom of Information Act?

Kildare County Council has published its FOI publication scheme in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2014 - http://kildare.ie/CountyCouncil/corporateservices/FreedomofInformation/PublicationScheme/

Further information on FOI is available from:

The Freedom of Information Unit,

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion Street,
Dublin 2.
D02 R583

Tel: +353 (1) 604 5388
Fax: +353 (1) 639 6281

E-mail: foi@per.gov.ie

The Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Dublin 2
D02 HE97

Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689
Locall: 1890 253 238
Fax: +353 (1) 639 5674

E-mail: info@oic.gov.ie
Web: https://www.oic.ie/  

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,

Central Policy Unit,
Floor 3, 7-9 Merrion Row,
Dublin 2
D02 V223

Tel: 076 100 7345/7332

E-mail: cpu@per.gov.ie
Web: https://foi.gov.ie/

The text of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is available at www.foi.gov.ie