What is FOI
The FOI Act 2014 provides that every person has the following legal rights:
- The right to access official records held by Government departments and all public bodies that confirm to the provisions of Section 6 of the Act
- The right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
- The right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them
How does FOI work?
The Act requires public bodies to respond to requests from the public for information they hold. In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a request within 4 weeks of receiving it. A week is defined in the Act to mean 5 consecutive weekdays excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
The request will be considered in accordance with the Act having regard to the exemptions provided for which include:
- Personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request)
- Information supplied to Pobal in confidence
- Law enforcement and public safety
- Commercially sensitive information
- Deliberations of public bodies
- Functions and negotiations of public bodies
- Consultation procedures
How do I make an FOI request?
Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing or by email to Pobal’s FOI Unit:
You should send a request either, in writing or by email, to the
Freedom of Information Unit,
Tel: +353 (1) 511 7000
Your request should include the following:
- A statement that the request is being made under the FOI Act
- As much information as possible about the records being sought, e.g. specify the areas of Pobal which you feel would be most relevant to your request
- The time period for which you wish to access records, e.g. records created between June 2013 and December 2013
- Please include a daytime telephone number and email address, if possible, so that you may be contacted quickly if it is necessary to clarify
Is there a charge for requesting information under the FOI Act?
There is no fee for making a request under Freedom of Information. It is very unlikely that any fees will be charged in respect of personal records, except where a large number of records are involved. In respect of non-personal requests, charges may be applied for the time spent finding records and for any reproduction costs incurred by Pobal in providing you with the material requested where the total costs exceeds €100. Where this minimum threshold (equivalent to five free hours) is exceeded, a rate of €20 per hour will be charged for the full amount of time spent.
Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €700, the request may be refused unless the scope of the request is narrowed. Details of actual charges relating to your request will be notified to you in writing. Payment should be made by way of Electric Funds Transfer. Please contact the FOI Unit for bank details. A list of relevant fees is set out below:
List of Fees
- Search and retrieval: €20.00 per hour (for requests that exceed the €100 minimum in terms of search, retrieval and copying; subject to the ceilings mentioned above.
- Photocopy per sheet: €0.04
- CD-ROM: €10.00
- Internal review fee €30 (€10 for medical card holders)
- Appeal to the Information Commissioner €50 (€15 for medical card holders)
- There is no charge if the records concerned contain only personal information relating to the applicant, unless there are a significant number of records.
- If you are claiming a reduced application fee, the request must be accompanied by the Medical Card registration number, issuing Health Board name and your consent to the verification of these details with that HSE issuing authority.
What if I am not satisfied with the decision of my FOI request?
You may appeal any FOI decision issued by Pobal by writing to the Freedom of Information Unit, Pobal, Holbrook House, Holles Street, Dublin 2 seeking an internal review of the matter. A fee of €30 (€10 for medical card holders) may apply for such an appeal. There is no fee for internal review applications concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.
What if I am not satisfied with the decision on internal review?
You may appeal the decision within six months by writing to the Office of The Information Commissioner. If you make an appeal the Information Commissioner will fully investigate and consider the matter and issue a fresh decision. All appeals should be addressed to:
The Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Tel: +353 (1) 6395689