Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act came into effect on 21 April, 1998 for Government Departments and certain Public bodies and on the 21st of October, 1998 nation wide for all Local Authorities and Health Boards.
What can you ask for ?
You can ask for the following records held by Local Authorities, Health Boards, Government Departments and certain public bodies:
- Any records relating to you personally, whenever created.
- All other records crested after 21st of October, 1998 ( in the case of Government Department and certain Public Bodies, this date is the 21st of April, 1998 ).
- Reasons for decisions made by the Council that affect you.
A record can be a paper document, information held on computer, printouts, maps, plans, microfiche, audio-visual etc.
Freedom of Information Requests
Please make your request in writing stating that you are requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act 1997 and Freedom of Information ( Amendment ) Act 2003 and be clear enough so that the Council fully understand what records are being sought. A valid request must satisfy these requirements. In cases where the Council receives requests for records that do not satisfy the above criteria, it is obliged to consult the requester to amend the request. Please make your request in writing to:
Freedom of Information Officer,
Carlow County Council,
Freedom of Information Fees
|Type of Request||Standard Fee||Reduced Fee|
|Request for a record||€15||€10|
|Request for a record or containing personal information||No charge||No charge|
|Section 17 Application||No charge||No charge|
|Section 18 Application||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 47 of the Freedom of Information 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 may also be charged for the cost of photocopying and retrieving records in the case of personal information. However, it is unlikely search and retrieval charges will be applied by the Council for the vast majority of cases that relate to requests for access to personal records. Charges may apply in respect of the search and retrieval ( €20.95 per hour ) of other information in addition to photocopying charges ( 4 cent per sheet ).
Frequently asked Questions
- Are the new fees additional to fees for search and retrieval and photocopying of records ?
Yes. These fees are prescribed under section 47(6A) of the FOI Act and are additional to fees and deposits that can apply under section 47 in respect of search and retrieval and photocopying of records released to a requester.
- What happens in the event of a dispute with a requester as to whether or not a request is for personal information ?
If the dispute cannot be resolved, you will be informed of the decision that a fee is payable and advised of your right to apply for a review of that decision under section 14. There is no charge for internal review applications in relation to decisions on charging of amounts of fees or deposits. If the decision to charge a fee is overturned at internal review or subsequently by the Information Commissioner, the decision to refuse the request will be deemed to have been unjustified and the request will be reactivated with immediate effect.
- How do public bodies establish if a requester is covered by a medical card ?
While public bodies are encouraged to inform users of the Act of their entitlements, there is an onus on the requester both to claim medical card coverage when making a request and to provide appropriate evidence in support of such coverage. Evidence could include details of the medical card registration number, issuing health board and the consent of the person making the request to the verification of the details with the health board.
- What is the position in relation to requests for a mixture of personal and non-personal information ?
The exemption for records containing personal information ( and for any subsequent review under section 14 or 34 ) applies to a request for a record or records containing only personal information related to the requester. If a requester decides to proceed with a mixed request, it is liable for the same fee as applies to requests for non-personal information.
Freedom of Information Decisions
The Freedom of information Act requires that Local Authorities must
- Acknowledge receipt of the request within two weeks.
- Make a decision on the request within four weeks.
There are certain circumstances under the Freedom of information Act where the period for a final decision may be longer than the normal four weeks. If this occurs in your request we will promptly advise you in writing.
Freedom of Information Appeals
If you are not satisfied with the decision on a Freedom of information request you may ask the Council for an internal review of the decision. A more senior officer will review your application. You will be told the result of this review within 3 weeks. If you are not satisfied with the decision on internal review, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review the matter.
The Information Commissioner is Ms. Emily O’Reilly and she may be contacted at:
Office of the Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Tel: 6785222 or Fax: 6610570
What information is exempt ?
Certain types of information are exempt under the Act, examples would include, information obtained in confidence, commercially sensitive information, personal details ( other than to the person to whom they relate ). Deliberations of public bodies, law enforcement, public safety, functions and negotiations of public bodies.
Do you need to make a Freedom of Information request for all types of information ?
No, Carlow County Council is committed to making information available to the public through publications, annual report, minutes of Council meetings etc. Information is also made available through Planning and Environment Legislation. If the information you request is already available generally or available at a fee then your request may be refused under the Freedom of Information Act. The Freedom of Information Act provides an additional source of information by facilitating access to records not already routinely available.
The Freedom of Information Act and Freedom of Information ( Amendment ) Act 2003 is available from:
Access to Information on the Environment
You are entitled to request access to information on the environment that is held by Carlow County Council. This right comes from Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament, the European Communities ( Access to Information on the Environment ) Regulations 2007 ( S.I. No. 133 of 2007 ) and the European Communities ( Access to Information on the Environment ) ( Amendment ) Regulations 2011 ( S.I. No. 662 of 2011 ).