Irish Freedom of Information Act underused

Use of the Republic's Freedom of Information Act by Irish journalists has declined to an all-time low.

Fewer than 1,000 FoI requests were made by them last year compared with more than 3,000 in 2001.

Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly, a former journalist, blamed the trend on the introduction of fees in 2003.

In her third annual report, O'Reilly said that ways would have to be found to encourage the media to make greater use of the act.

And she described the continued exclusion of the Irish police force from the remit of the act as "quite extraordinary".

Police in the UK, she pointed out, were covered by similar legislation and "the heavens hadn't fallen in as a result".

She expressed disappointment that, as well as the police, other public bodies remained outside the scope of the act nine years after it was introduced.

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