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Freedom of Information

  1. Right of Access (subject to exemptions)
  2. Applying for Information under Freedom of Information Act
  3. Fees and Requests
  4. Waiver of Fees
  5. Right to Appeal the initial decision
  6. Review by the Information Commissioner
  7. Freedom of Information Publication Scheme

The Freedom of Information Act (Amendment), 2014 establishes the following statutory rights:

  1. a legal right for each person to access information held by public bodies and government departments
  2. a legal right for each person to have official information relating to himself/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
  3. a legal right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting himself/herself

The Act gives Right of Access (subject to exemptions) to:

  1. all records created after commencement of this Act, i.e. 21st October 1998
  2. such records created before that date as may be required to understand records created after commencement of the Act
  3. personal records regardless of when created
  4. in the case of staff members, personnel records created from a date 3 years before commencement of the Act
  5. reasons for decisions made by Carlow County Council directly affecting the Requestor
  6. seek correction of personal information relating to the Requestor, held by Carlow County Council where it is inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading

Applying for information under Freedom of Information Act

The request should be mad in writing, preferably using the standard FOI Request Form, and should indicate that the information is sought under the Freedom of Information Act.  The Requestor is entitled to apply for access to information not otherwise publicly available.

When the Requestor is seeking information which is personal, it will be necessary to submit the appropriate identification as required by the decision maker.

If the Requestor wishes to receive the information in any particular format, this should be indicated in the request.  As much detail as possible should be given in the request to enable the decision maker to identify the records to which access is required. If the Requestor has difficulty in identifying the precise records which you required, the Freedom of Information Liaison Officer will be happy to assist in preparing the request.

Applications for information under this Act should be addressed to:

Avril Oakes
Freedom of Information Liaison Officer
Carlow County Council
County Buildings
Athy Road
Carlow

Phone: 059 9136236
Email: foi@carlowcoco.ie

The Liaison Officer will issue an acknowledgement of the request within three working days of receiving it. A decision on the request must issue within twenty working days of receiving it unless the request relates to such number of records that compliance within the specified time is not reasonably possible, in which case a time extension not exceeding a further twenty days may be allowed. The Requestor must be notified of the period of the time extension required and the reasons therefore.

Fees involved in making a request

Fees for Freedom of Information requests were abolished under the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2014, which came into force in October 2014. There is still a fee for an Internal Review or an Appeal to the Information Commissioner. A reduced fee will apply if the person making the request is a medical card holder or a dependant of a medical card holder.

Type of Request/Application Standard Fee* Reduced Fee* & **
Request for a record under Section 7 :Initial Request  €0  €0
Request for a record under Section 7 :Internal Appeal €30 €10
Request for a record under Section 7 :Appeal to Information Commissioner €50 €15
Request under Section 7 for personal information No charge No charge
Application under Section 17 for amendment of a record containing incorrect, incomplete or misleading personal information No charge No charge
Application under Section 18 for the reasons for a decision affecting the individual No charge  No charge

*Fee will not apply where a person appeals a decision to charge a fee or deposit, or a fee or deposit of a particular amount under section 27 of the FOI Act

** Reduced fee will apply in respect of third parties who appeal a decision of a public body to release their information on public interest grounds

Fees applicable for time spent finding records and for the cost of photocopying – Search & Retrieval

Fees may be charged for the time spent finding records and for any photocopying costs incurred by them in providing the material requested, as follows:

  1. For personal records, fees in respect of the cost of copying the records only will apply
  2. For other (non-personal) information, fees may be charged in respect of the time spent in efficiently locating and copying records, based on a standard hourly rate of €20 per hour – no charge will be applied for the first 5 hours of Search and Retrieval, and there is a cap of €500 on the amount that can be charged
  3. No charges will apply in respect of time spent by the local authority in considering your request
  4. A deposit (20% of the overall cost) may be payable and in these circumstances, you may request assistance from our staff to amend your request so as to reduce or eliminate the amount of the deposit

Waiver of Fees

Fees may be waived in the following circumstances:

  1. where the cost of collecting and accounting for the fee would exceed the amount payable; or,
  2. where the information would be of particular assistance to the understanding of an issue of national importance; or,
  3. in the case of personal information, where such charges would not be reasonable, having regard to the means of the Requester

Right to Appeal of the initial decision in respect of the request – Internal Review

The Freedom of Information Act sets out an appeal mechanism in the event of a refusal of a request, or in relation to deferral of access, charges, form of access, etc.

The Requestor may seek an Internal Review of the initial decision, which will be carried out by an official at a higher level if he/she:

  1. is dissatisfied with the initial response received, i.e. refusal of information, form of access, charges etc., or
  2. has not received a reply within twenty working days of the initial application – this is deemed to be a refusal of the request and allows the Requestor to proceed to Internal Review

Requests for Internal Review should be submitted within four weeks of the initial decision by writing to:

Eamonn Brophy
Senior Executive Officer
Carlow County Council
County Buildings
Athy Road
Carlow

Phone: 059 9170345
Email: ebrophy@carlowcoco.ie

The Internal Reviewer must complete the review within three weeks.

An Internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Information Commissioner.

Review by the Information Commissioner

The Requester may seek an independent review by the Information Commissioner if:

  1. following completion of the Internal Review procedure, the Requester is dissatisfied with the decision; or,
  2. the Requester has not received a reply to the request for Internal Review within 3 weeks of the application – this is deemed to be a refusal and the Requester may appeal the matter to the Commissioner

Appeals in writing may be made directly to the Information Commissioner at the following address:

Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Phone: 01 6785222
Fax: 01 6610570
Email: info@oic.gov.ie

Freedom of Information Publication Scheme

Carlow county Council has prepared and published a Publication Scheme conforming with a Model and Guidelines made by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform under Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. This scheme came into effect on 14th April 2016.

The purpose of the Scheme is to facilitate the provision of information to the greatest extent possible, except for information exempted under the Act and in preparing, reviewing or revising the Scheme, Carlow County Council shall have regard to the public interest in:

  1. allowing public access to information held by the Council,
  2. the publication of reasons for decision made by the Council
  3. publishing information of relevance or interest to the general public in relation to its activities and functions generally

The Scheme is web based with links from it to information under six heading as set out below which will be updated as provided for under the Act. A hard copy will be available for viewing by appointment also.

Information will be provided under the following six headings:

  1. Information about Carlow County Council
  2. Services provided by Carlow County Council
  3. Decision Making Process for major policy proposals
  4. Financial Information
  5. Procurement
  6. Freedom of Information Disclosure Log and other information

If the information required cannot be found here, a search of the Council’s website can be conducted or the relevant section of Carlow County Council can be contacted at 059 9170300.

If the information sought is not made publicly available by Carlow County Council, a Freedom of Information Request may be considered.