Irish FOI Reform Delayed; Government Backs Expansion

20 July 2012

Legislation to expand the coverage of the Irish freedom of information law will not be taken up until next April, a key minister has announced, but the government is supporting having the law cover the National Asset Management Agency and the Central Bank.

Minister of State for Reform Brian Hayes said the government would act “to ensure all statutory bodies and all bodies significantly funded from the public purse are covered under the legislation,” according to report by Marie O’Halloran in The Irish Times. See also a report by Michael Brennan in The Independent.

Legislation introduced by the political party Fianna Fáil seeks to expand the number of agencies covered by the law and to set a €500 maximum charge for a FOI request.

Hayes accepted the legislation in principle, but said it “does not go as far as the programme for government commitment to extend the Act not only to all statutory bodies but also to non-statutory bodies in receipt of significant public funding,” according to the Irish Times account.

Hayes, in what the paper terms “an unusual move,” said the bill would not be brought up until April 6, 2013, to allow for further drafting.

The Irish Times said: “Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald criticised the Government for failing to deliver on its commitment 16 months ago when it came into office. `All that is needed is to reintroduce the original 1997 legislation in line with the programme for government commitments. It’s that simple.’ ”

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