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Information Commissioner calls for end to Irish FOI exclusions

28 April 2010

Ireland's Information Commissioner has called for an end to the undermining of the country's Freedom of Information Act. In her annual report, Emily O'Reilly highlights the number of state agencies excluded from the scope of the Act.

The NUJ has strongly supported her stance. Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said there was no justification for the exclusion of An Garda Siochána, the Vocational Educational Committees, the National Treasury Management Agency and the newly established National Assets Management Agency from public scrutiny.

Séamus Dooley added:

"There is an urgent need to bring these organisations within the scope of the Act. It is also disturbing to note the practice of removing public bodies or functions of public bodies that had been under FOI, from the scope of the Act.
"It is a scandal that the enforcement functions of the Health and Safety Authority, the road safety functions now carried out by the Road Safety Authority and the functions of the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds now performed by the Property Registration Authority are not covered by Freedom of Information.
"The proposed removal of the enforcement function of the National Employment Rights Authority is of particular concern to the NUJ. NERA must operate in public, and the possibility of public access to its records in itself is an important weapon in the armoury of the Authority. It is clear that 'naming and shaming' is an effective tool and one has to ask why it should now be decommissioned."

Tags: , foi, hsa, press freedom