Irish Commissioner Applies EU Rule to Nationalized Bank

13 October 2011

The Irish Commissioner of Environmental Information has ruled that the nationalized Anglo Irish Bank must respond to requests for information relating to the environment.

The bank, nationalized in 2009, meets the criteria for a “public authority,” under the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations (2007), according to a decision by Commissioner Emily O’Reilly.  It gives the public a legal right to information on the environment from a range of public authorities. The ruling can be appealed.

The decision is described by blogger Gavin Sheridan, who had made the information requests in early 2010 and appealed their denial. Sheridan noted that the decision does not subject the bank to freedom of information requests,

Sheridan was quoted in The Irish Times. The article says in part:  

He said the ruling was significant because there was now greater clarity on the scope of the law and suggested it could apply to other companies or bodies where the State holds a significant shareholding.

In addition, he said environmental information could apply to a wide category of data such as anything relating to land, planning permission or greenhouse gases.

“No one has used these regulations to any great degree so far. But once members of the public begin to use this and appeal decisions, we can begin to understand how widely these regulations can be used,” Sheridan said.

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