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Irish IC Hopes for Reforms, Notes More Requests

Source: freedominfo.org

Date: 1 June 2012

The Irish Information Commissioner May 30 said she hopes to see new freedom of information reform legislation later this year and noted that FOI requests rose 8 percent in 2011.

Emily O’Reilly, Information Commissioner and Commissioner for Environmental Information, made these points and others upon the release of the 2011 Annual Report (press release).

Regarding prospective legislation, O’Reilly said she hopes it will “give effect to the commitment in the Programme for Government to restore the FOI Act to its pre-2003 state and to extend its remit to additional public bodies.”

FOI requests received by public bodies in 2011 (16,517 requests) were up 8% over 2010. She noted “the ongoing increase in the number of FOI requests received by the Department of Social Protection (1,106 requests received – up 95% over 2009).” It was noted that requests from journalists fell from 14 percent to 11 percent.

 The commissioner commented on a judgment delivered in 2011 in what has become known as the “Rotunda Case,” as summarized by the press release:

The Supreme Court found that the age of the applicant’s grandmother when she gave birth to her father in 1922, was information given to the Hospital in confidence and was exempt from release under FOI. The Commissioner commented that this is likely to prove a significant impediment to the Government’s commitment to implement a recommendation made by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in its major report (the Ryan Report) in 2009 that the “right of access to personal documents and information must be recognised and afforded to ex-residents of institutions”.

See also reports in The Irish Times and Inside Ireland.