The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014 was signed into law on Tuesday, 14th of October 2014 by the President of Ireland, Mr. Michael D. Higgins and all FOI requests must now be made under this Act. The Freedom of Information Act 1997 and Freedom of Information(Amendment) Act 2003 have been repealed.
- What is Freedom of Information?
- What can you ask for?
- What is a record?
- Do you have to pay?
- When will the Council make a decision?
- Can you appeal the decision?
- What information is exempt?
- Do you need to make a Freedom of Information request for all types of information?
- Further Information
- Summary of Fees
- Information Note
- How do public bodies establish if a requester is covered by a medical card?
What is Freedom of Information?
The Initial 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 for 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 created 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.
What is a record?
A "record" can be a paper document, information held on computer, printouts, maps, plans, microfiche, audio-visual etc.
How should you make your request?
You should make your request in writing (download application form here) to Brendan Hynes , Freedom of Information Officer, Corporate Performance and Change Management Department, County Hall, Tallaght, Dublin 24
You should state that you are requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and be clear enough so that the Council fully understands 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.
Do you have to pay?
There is no FOI request fee but fees may be charged for the cost of photocopying, searching for and retrieving records. However, it is unlikely that 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 only.
Charges may apply in respect of the search and retrieval (€20.00 per hour) of information in addition to photocopying charges (4 cent per sheet),€10.00 per cd and €6.00 for x-rays.These charges apply only where the costs exceed the minimum threshold of €100 up to a cap of €500(appropriate maximum amount).There is a further upper limit on such charges of €700 called the ‘overall ceiling limit’ above which the Council can refuse to process a request,unless the requester is prepared to refine the request to bring the search,retrieval and copying fees below the limit.
When will the Council make a decision?
The Act requires that South Dublin County Council must
- Acknowledge receipt of the request within two weeks
- Make a decision on the request within four weeks*
*There are certain circumstances under the FOI Act where the period for a final decision may be longer than the normal four weeks. If this occurs with your request we will promptly advise you in writing.
Can you appeal the decision?
Yes . If you are not satisfied with the decision on an FOI 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 Mr. Peter Tyndall and he may be contacted at the following address:
Office of the Information Commissioner,
18, Lower Leeson Street,
Tel No:01- 6395689
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. South Dublin 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 & 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 2014 is available from Government Publications, Sales Office, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.
South Dublin County Council has published two manuals, Section 15 (guide to structure, functions, services and records of the Council) and Section 16 (guide to rules, guidelines & practices governing the activities of the Council).
You may also contact the Council's Freedom of Information Officer, Brendan Hynes on telephone number 414 9000 or at the address below for any further information you may require in relation to your rights of access to information under the Act.
Brendan Hynes ,
Freedom of Information Officer,
Corporate Performance and Change Management Department ,
South Dublin County Council,
|Fee Type||Standard Fee||Medical Card holders*|
|Request for a record||No charge||No charge|
Review by Information Commissioner
|Search,retrieval and copying costs which do not exceed €100||No charge||No charge|
|Search,retrieval and copying costs of €101 or more and up to €700||€20 per hour in respect of the full search and retrieval costs,€10 per cd,€6 per x-ray and 4 cent per page of photocopying subject to a cap of €500.||Same as standard fee|
|Search,retrieval and copying costs above €700||If requester does not refine the FOI request to bring costs below €700 and the request is processed by the Council, the full actual cost of producing records will apply.||Same as standard fee|
* Medical Card holders should provide details of Card Number and issuing Health Service Executive Division.
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.While public bodies are encouraged to inform users of the Act of their entitlements, there is an onus on the requester (if applicable)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 Service Executive Division and the consent of the person making the request to the verification of the details with the Health Service Executive.