Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (196)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

196. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if organisations (details supplied) are covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9549/18]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 extended the remit of the legislation to a further 70 public bodies, bringing the overall total to some 600 bodies comprehended by the Act. The Act provides a very broad definition of public bodies at Section 6(1) and a body meeting that definition is an FOI Body unless they are otherwise explicitly exempted.

The Act further provides that all new public bodies comprehended by this definition will automatically come under freedom of information (FOI) legislation, unless specifically exempted by order. This reversed the system under previous legislation whereby new bodies would have to be brought into the scope of the legislation by order. The Act also provides the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform with the power to make an order bringing a body under the Commissioner's remit if it is financed, wholly or partly, or directly or indirectly by means of monies provided by a Minister of the Government.

With regard to the entities referred to by the Deputy, the Irish Environmental Network is an umbrella organisation comprising some 30 non-Governmental organisations. A preliminary analysis indicates that these organisations are charities or not-for-profit bodies and it is unlikely that they would meet the criteria set out in Section 6(1) of the Act. However, it would be a matter for the organisations themselves in the first instance to decide whether they are comprehended by section 6(1) of the Act or not should they receive a request under the Act. Where there are differing views on the status of a body, it is open to the requestor to seek the view of the Information Commissioner on the matter.