What is Freedom of Information - FOI?
The new Freedom of Information Act 2014 came into effect on 14th October 2014.
The Freedom of Information Acts assert the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.
The Act established three new statutory rights:
- A legal right for each person to access information held by public bodies;
- A legal right for each person to have official information relating to himself or herself amended when it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
- A legal right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting oneself.
Under the Freedom of Information Acts, everyone is entitled to apply for access to information not otherwise publicly available. You have a right to request:
- Access to records held by Wicklow County Council;
- Correction of personal information held by the Council concerning yourself wherever it is inaccurate, incomplete or misleading;
- Access to reasons for decisions made by the Council directly affecting you.
The following categories of records come within the scope of the Acts:
- All records relating to personal information held by the Council irrespective of when created;
- All other records created after 21st April 1998, which is the commencement date of the Freedom of Information Act; and
- All other records necessary for the understanding of a current record.
How to make a request for information under The Freedom of Information Act, 2014.
Information can be requested in writing or via email. Requests should be addressed to
Freedom of Information Officer,
Wicklow County Council,
Tel: 0404 20257
- The request must specify that you are seeking the information under the Freedom of Information Act.
- The request must identify the records that you want to access and give enough information to allow us to clearly identify the records sought. In order to avoid delays be as clear and specific as possible when you are requesting records.
- Include a telephone number or e-mail address and your postal address; this will assist should the Council need to contact you.
- No fee is due at application stage.
- You must specify if you require access to the records to be given in a particular form or manner. For example, do you want photocopies of the records?
- Your request will be acknowledged within two weeks.
- A decision on the request will be made within four weeks, however, if the request is particularly complex or if there are a large number of records involved the time limit may be extended to eight weeks. If you do not receive a response to your request within four weeks the Act deems your request to have been refused.
(Note: “Week” means a period of 5 consecutive week-days and, in determining such a period, a Saturday or a public holiday (within the meaning of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997) shall be disregarded and “weeks” shall be construed accordingly.)
What fees are payable in relation to my request?
Fees may be charged for search, retrieval and copying of the records requested. This process involves two stages:
- Locating the broad set of records in which those requested might be found.
- Identifying, extracting and assembling the particular records sought for examination.
Fees for the estimated cost of searching for and retrieving records and copying the records can only be charged with respect to records being released. €20 is charged for each hour spent searching for and retrieving records and €0.04 is charged per sheet for a photocopy of the records released.
|Less than 5||€100 or less||No fees can be charged for search & retrieval or copying|
|Between 5 and 25||€101 - €500||Search & retrieval and copying fees apply|
|Between 25 and 35||€501 - €700||No more than €500 can be charged for search & retrieval or copying|
|More than 35||More than €700||The decision maker will contact the requester to ask him/her to refine/amend the request to ensure that the search & retrieval & coping charges are below €700. If the requester refuses to refine/amend the request then the request can be refused under Section 27 (12)(iii)|
In cases where search and retrieval fees apply, we are obliged to charge a deposit of at least 20% of the estimate to the requester.
How do I appeal the Council’s decision?
You may seek an Internal Review of the Council’s initial decision in relation to your request, if
(a) You are dissatisfied with the initial decision received e.g. refusal of information, form of access etc., partial release of information or
(b) You have not received a reply within four weeks of the initial application – this is deemed to be a refusal of the request and allows you to seek an Internal Review.
- A request for an internal review must be submitted in writing within 4 weeks of the initial decision.
- In most cases a standard fee of €30 must accompany an application for an internal review. A reduced fee of €10 applies to medical card holders.
- Internal reviews are carried out by a staff member of a higher rank that that of the staff member who made the decision in the first instance.
- The Council must complete the review within three weeks.
A request for an Internal Review should be submitted in writing to:
The Freedom of Information Office,
Wicklow County Council,
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent review by the Information Commissioner
Following completion of the Internal Review, you may seek an independent review of the decision from the Information Commissioner. An applicant may also appeal to the Commissioner if the Council does not reply to their request for an internal review of the original decision within three weeks – as this is deemed to be a refusal.
- An application for review by the Information Commissioner must be made within 6 months of notification of the decision by the FOI body,
- An internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Information Commissioner.
- The decisions of the Information Commissioner are binding. However, you can appeal a decision to the High Court on a point of law.
- A standard fee of €50 must accompany an application for an independent review to the Information Commissioner. A reduced fee of €15 applies for medical card holders or their dependents.
Appeals must be made directly in writing to the Information Commissioner at the following address:
Office of the Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Phone: (01) 6395689
Lo-call 1890 223 030