Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (150)

Catherine Murphy


150. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to include the Abbey Theatre to be subject to freedom of information legislation. [37378/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 greatly expanded the number of organisations that are subject to the legislation, setting out broad criteria at section 6 by which it may be determined whether or not a body is subject to FOI.  At present, approximately 600 organisations are subject to FOI, which is designed to promote openness, transparency and accountability of the public sector.

In general, private companies or charities are not FOI bodies in their own right under the terms of the 2014 Act.  However, it may be noted that the legislation allows in principle for access to records physically held by a company or charity, "if and insofar as" they relate to a service to provided to a public sector body that is subject to FOI.  Such a request should be processed in accordance with the legislation by the relevant public sector body.  Similarly, information relating to funding or other arrangements with the public sector may be requested under FOI through the relevant public body, rather than directly from the private entity concerned. 

Therefore, although private companies or charities are not usually subject to FOI in themselves, relevant information may nevertheless be accessible under FOI where such entities have a sufficiently close nexus with public sector bodies.  As such, there are no plans at present to make the Abbey Theatre subject to the Freedom of Information Act in its own right.