Requests under Irish FoI Act fall

Use of the Irish Freedom of Information Act by journalists and the public is showing a sharp decline, according to a report by information commissioner Emily O’Reilly.

O’Reilly’s report for 2003 shows that requests by journalists under the Act declined by 83 per cent. The figures are based on a comparison of FoI requests made in the first quarter of 2003 with those made in the first quarter of 2004.

O’Reilly has called for a review of the scale and structure of charges under the FoI Act and a reappraisal of the €150 charge that applies to reviews carried out by her office.

She also said the Government should consider waiving fees and charges where the release of records would be in the public interest or of benefit to the public at large.

Her remarks come at a time when MPs have urged ministers to keep their pledge that only “marginal” fees will be charged under the UK’s FoI Act, due to come into effect next year (Press Gazette, 11 June).

By Des Cryan in Dublin

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