What's New

  • 15 October 2015

    Ireland Orders Creation of Proactive Disclosure Plans

    The new Irish Freedom of Information Act came into force Oct. 14 and the government has told agencies they have six months to create their plans for proactive disclosure of information. The government issued an implementation order, which also covers a new fee structure. “A key innovation,” the government said, “requires public bodies to pre-empt the need […]

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  • 24 June 2015

    Irish Court Rejects Agency Claim of Access Exemption

    The Irish Supreme Court June 23 unanimously rejected arguments by the National Asset Management Agency that it is not a public authority subject to freedom of environmental information requests. Established in response to an unprecedented financial crisis, the agency’s scope and scale was “exceptional” and it was given “special powers,” the court said. The text […]

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News Archive

  • 15 October 2014

    Ireland Amendments Extend Reach of FOI Law

    Revisions to the freedom of information law signed Oct. 14 by the Irish president will bring more public bodies under the Irish FOI umbrella. The new legislation, known as the Freedom of Information Act, 2014, will apply to: An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force. Public financial bodies, including NAMA, the National Asset Management Agency […]

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  • 7 July 2014

    Irish FOI Proposals Still`Timid’

    By Richard Dowling The following commentary is from RTÉ News. Rowling is the RTÉ North East Correspondent. The decision of the Government to do a U-turn on the issue of upfront fees for FOI requests has been widely welcomed. It is a small but important step forward in making FOI more accessible to the citizens of Ireland. […]

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  • 2 July 2014

    Irish Government Concedes; Drops Request Fee Plan

    The Irish government has dropped its proposal to charge an upfront fee for requests under its freedom of information law. The reversal was announced by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, as reported in the Journal and the Irish Times. As part of a larger proposal amend the law, the government had sought to […]

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  • 25 April 2014

    Freedom of Information: The World of Hurt

    By Simon McGarr This post was published April 20 on the website of McGarr Solicitors, located in Dublin, Ireland. McGarr’s twitter account is @tupp_ed. Gavin Sheridan has an excellent essay in today’s Sunday Independent, debunking all the arguments advanced for our State’s insistence on charging an upfront fee for making a Freedom of Information request. […]

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  • 14 April 2014

    Irish Groups Protest Plan to Impose Various FOI Fees

    Plans to increase fees for freedom of information requests in Ireland have drawn objections from civic groups. Arguments against the proposed increased, part of a larger FOI amendment package, were voiced in a letter signed by about 30 groups that are part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) civil society forum. It was sent to […]

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  • 4 March 2014

    Freedom of Information in Ireland: changing of the guard

    By Tony Lowes Lowes is a Director of Friends of the Irish Environment In what is a serious blow to Freedom of Information in Ireland, the newly appointed Information Commission and Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has withdrawn his predecessor’s appeal to the Supreme Court against a High Court judgment that the constitutional right to cabinet confidentiality […]

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  • 29 November 2013

    Irish FOI bill concerns must be tackled

    By Maeve McDonagh McDonagh is Professor of Law at UCC. She is also the author of Freedom of Information Law 2nd ed This article was originally published Nov. 25 in the Irish Examiner. The Freedom of Information Bill 2013 currently at committee stage in the Oireachtas is to be welcomed in terms of its reversal […]

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  • 15 November 2013

    Irish Minister Changes Course on FOI Request Fees

    Irish Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has partially retracted his controversial proposal to raise fees for freedom of information requests. Although portrayed as a “U-turn” in the Irish press, it remains to be seen how far Howlin has moved. Howlin had proposed to charge €15 for each “separate and distinct” query contained in a single FOI […]

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  • 12 November 2013

    Killing Freedom of Information in Ireland

    By Gavin Sheridan The article appeared on The Story blog, where comments are accruing. We’ve had sight of new amendments to the FOI Bill 2013 proposed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. We will be blunt: if passed, Freedom of Information is dead. will, in all likelihood, cease all FOI requests. And […]

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  • 2 August 2013

    Irish Government Advances Bill to Amend FOI Statute

    The Irish government has unveiled the text of its bill to change the Freedom of Information law, and while the expanded coverage and other provisions are generating applause from the pro-access community, one clause is raising eyebrows. The provision says agencies should take “reasonable steps” to search electronic records, but would not be required “to […]

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  • 17 July 2013

    Irish Government Offers FOI Law Amendments

    The Irish government July 17 announced that it will soon offer a bill to make a variety of changes to the freedom of information law. More public bodies will be brought under the act’s purview, according to the announcement, made by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin. This extension will cover the […]

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  • 20 May 2013

    Ireland Plans to Join Open Government Partnership

    Ireland May 20 announced its intention to join the Open Government Partnership. Irish membership will bring the OGP family back to 58, following the recent decision by Russia to drop out. (See related report.) The government’s statement  quotes Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin as saying, “OGP participation will provide further momentum to […]

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  • 17 May 2013

    Appeals Rise in Ireland, Irish Commissioner O’Reilly Says

    Appeals to the Irish information commissioner  are up, some government departments are refusing to provide information to her, and budget pressures are being used to justify delays in responding to requests, according to Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly. The information appeared in her annual report for 2012 and in an article in The Irish Times by Steven […]

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  • 27 February 2013

    Irish Court Says NAMA Covered by Disclosure Rule

    The Irish Court Feb. 27 held that the National Assets Management Agency is a public authority subject to freedom of information requests. Environmental Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly has issued such ruling in September 2011, but NAMA appealed, argued that it is not a “public authority.” NAMA is a government-backed financial body established to help bail […]

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  • 14 January 2013

    Irish Minister Foresees Partial Application of FOI to NAMA

    A key Irish minister Jan. 10 said a revised freedom of information law should be applied to the government-backed financial body established to help bail out the Irish economy, but that certain “safeguards” to protect the commercial interests of the federal government will be required, according to media reports. Application of the FOI law to […]

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  • 6 December 2012

    Irish Minister Proposes Joining OGP; Others?

    A top minister in the Irish government has proposed that Ireland join the Open Government Partnership and more information has emerged about the possibility of membership by Australia, and other countries. The Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, in a Dec. 5 address stated, “I intend to bring proposals to Government shortly […]

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  • 20 July 2012

    Irish FOI Reform Delayed; Government Backs Expansion

    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 […]

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  • 25 June 2012

    OGP Review: New Study, Continued Activism

    With the submission of most national action plans in the past and their review in the future, recent news about the Open Government Partnership lately has centered on the first study of the action plans and efforts to persuade countries to join or to live up to OGP ideals. Activists in Ireland and Hungary are seeking […]

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  • 1 June 2012

    Irish IC Hopes for Reforms, Notes More Requests

    The Irish Information Commissioner May 30 said she hopes to see new freedom of information reform legislation later this year and noted that FOI requests rose 8 percent in 2011. Emily O’Reilly, Information Commissioner and Commissioner for Environmental Information, made these points and others upon the release of the 2011 Annual Report (press release). Regarding prospective […]

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  • 13 October 2011

    Irish Commissioner Applies EU Rule to Nationalized Bank

    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 […]

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  • 6 May 2011

    Irish Commissioner Suggests Expansion of FOI Law

    Irish Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly May 3 issued her Annual Report for 2010, recommending that the scope of the law be expanded to cover more public bodies, including the administrative side of An Garda Síochána [the Irish government police force] and the biggest state-controlled financial institutions. She also objected to recent cutbacks on the coverage […]

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  • 31 January 2011

    My Fight for Irish Freedom (of Information)

    By Rodney Breen This article was posted Jan. 25 on Mr. Breen’s blog “Life as it Happens.” It is reprinted with permission. There are many things that are wrong in Ireland, and secrecy is one of them. Here’s a very simple example: the 1997 Irish Freedom of Information Act preceded the British one by three years (the […]

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  • 22 March 2006

    EBRD Seeks Comment on Draft of New Disclosure Policy

    At the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the board recently released a proposal to modify its disclosure policies, with comments due April 14. The EBRD included in its announcement a number of new provisions. First, two new categories of information would be disclosed: General Institutional Information and Accountability and Governance. Second, the EBRD […]

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  • 28 September 2005

    International Right to Know Day 2005

    Since 2002, freedom of information advocates around the world have been working together to promote the right of access to information for all people and recognize the benefits of transparent and accountable governments. We use this day as a way to share ideas, strategies and success stories about the development of freedom of information laws […]

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  • 7 April 2005

    FOIA Law Discloses British Farm Subsidies

    For the first time the British Freedom of Information Act forced the disclosure of the amounts and recipients of UK farm subsidies on March 22, revealing over £1,000,000 in payments to the British royal family. A request filed with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) by the Guardian newspaper produced a pair of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, […]

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  • 11 October 2003

    “The Right to Know is Gaining around the World”

    by Thomas Blanton The International Herald Tribune, October 11, 2003, p. 6 Last month (September 23, 2003), Armenia became the 51st country in the world to guarantee its citizens the right to know what their government is up to. Armenia’s new freedom of information law is the latest outpost of the worldwide movement towards opening […]

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  • 22 September 2003

    REPORT: Freedom of Information in Ireland: Five Years On

    The leading freedom of information expert in Ireland, Maeve McDonagh of University College Cork, reviews the first five years of the Irish law, passed in 1997 and implemented in 1998, and deconstructs the latest amendments, from April 2003, that roll back parts of the law. In addition to a penetrating analysis of the statute, Professor […]

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  • 15 July 2002

    World’s Right to Know

    By Thomas Blanton Published in Foreign Policy, July/August 2002 During the last decade, 26 countries have enacted new legislation giving their citizens access to government information. Why? Because the concept of freedom of information is evolving from a moral indictment of secrecy to a tool for market regulation, more efficient government, and economic and technological […]

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FOI Law and Regulations



Office of the Information Commissioner



Freedom of Information Law, University College, Cork



Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.