The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014, gives 3 legal rights to those seeking access to information held by public bodies covered by the Act:
- The right of access to official records created after 21 October, 1998 which are held by Government Departments or other public bodies subject to the Act;
- The right to have personal details on official records corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
- The right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect the requester.
FOI gives legal rights to obtain access to records held by public bodies. There is generally no time limit in the case of personal information about the requester. In other cases the right of access is to records created after the commencement of the Act on 21 October 1998 (although access may be given to records created before this date where they are required to understand records created after this date). Requests for information under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 must be made in writing.
Can I get access to any information that I seek?
The following records come within the scope of the FOI Act:
- all records relating to requesters’ personal information irrespective of when they were created
- all other records created from the commencement of the FOI Act (21 October 1998)
- any records necessary to the understanding of a current record even if created prior to 21 October 1998
Any records held by the local authority falling into these categories may be sought under the Act. However, in order to allow public bodies to conduct their business properly and to protect the rights of third parties, certain records are exempt from release under the Act. Whether an exemption will be applied depends, in many cases, on whether the public interest is better served by releasing or withholding the information. Among the key exemptions are records relating to:
- Government meetings
- the deliberative processes of the public body
- parliamentary and court matters
- law enforcement and public safety
- security, defence and international relations
- confidential and commercially sensitive information
- personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request)
Is there a charge for getting information under the FOI Act?
There is no application fee for requests made under the Act. However you may be charged search & retrieval and copying fees.
Fees are applied in respect of the time spent searching and retrieving records that are released to you and in respect of copying of such records. Section 27 of the Act sets out the elements of search and retrieval which may be charged for.
In most cases there are no search, retrieval and copying charges where the request relates to your own personal records. However the Act does allow that in situations where the request relates to a significant number of records that a charge may be levied having regard to the circumstances of the requester.
How do I make an FOI request?
A request for information under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing and should indicate that the information is being sought under the Freedom of Information Act. The request should also be sufficiently clear for us to identify the records sought. If we are not clear as to the records being sought we will contact you to seek clarification.
If you wish to gain access to the records in a particular form (e.g. inspect the records, photocopies, computer disk, etc.) you should specify this in the application.
Requests may be made by post by writing to
Freedom of Information Officer,
Monaghan County Council,
Tel. 047 30538
Download an FOI application form here FOI request form
Requests may also be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For most requests a decision will be made within 4 weeks of a valid request having been received. Where consultation is required this period may be extended.
What can I do if I am unhappy with a decision on my request?
If you are dissatisfied with the Council’s decision on an FOI request you can seek an internal review of the decision. An internal review is a complete reconsideration of your request by a more senior member of staff in the Council. Applications for internal review should be made in writing to the Director of Services, Corporate Affairs, Monaghan County Council, The Glen, Monaghan.
The fee for internal review under Section 21 is now €30 (€10 for medical card holders and their dependants)
If you are unhappy with the decision made by the internal reviewer, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner, whose contact details are set out below. The fee for appeals to the Information Commissioner under Section 22 is now €50 (€15 for medical card holders and their dependants).
The address for the Office of the Information Commissioner is
Address: 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2, D02 HE97.
Phone: +353-1-639 5689 Lo-call: 1890 253238 Fax: +353-1-639 5674