Freedom of Information Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This page contains the answers to Frequently Asked Questions about FOI. If you cannot find the answer to your question here or require further information please contact the FOI Unit.
- What is FOI?
- Do I need to make an FOI request to get information from the Department?
- How does FOI work?
- Will I be charged for requesting information under the FOI Act?
- How do I make an FOI request?
- Can I get access to any information that I seek?
- How soon can a person making a request for records expect a reply?
- What's the next step if I am unhappy with a decision on my request?
- Can I get help making a request?
- Why are all public bodies not covered by FOI?
The FOI Act provides, that from 21 April 1998, every person has the following legal rights:
- the right to access official records held by Government Departments or other public bodies listed in 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.
These rights mean that from 21 April, 1998 people can seek access to personal information held on them no matter when the information was created, and to other records created after 21 April, 1998.
No- it is not always necessary to make a FOI request to get information from the Department. A considerable amount of material is already made available to the public through information leaflets, publications and in response to enquiries.
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 and public holidays (Sundays are also excluded as they are not week days). Also, public bodies must produce publications known as Sections 15 and 16 Reference Books, setting out the structure of their organisation, the arrangements in place for providing information and any rules, guidelines or practices they use in reaching decisions that affect the public. Printed copies of the Department’s Section 15/16 Reference Book or parts thereof, are available on request from the Freedom of Information Unit, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Phone: 01-631 2375/2398, Fax: 01-631 2827, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
A standard processing fee (as outlined in the list below) must accompany all applications, with the exception of those applications requesting Personal Information. Please note that if 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 Health Board.
Other charges may be applied for the time spent finding records and for any photocopying costs incurred by the Department in providing you with the material requested. It is very unlikely that any fees will be charged in respect of personal records, except where a large number of records are involved. Section 47 of the FOI Act provides for fees.
Fees are currently set as follows in accordance with Statutory Instruments Nos 139 of 1998, 13 of 1997, and 264 of 2003.
- ¤15.00 standard processing fee
- ¤10.00 standard processing fee (medical card holders)
- ¤75.00 internal appeal fee
- ¤25.00 internal fee (medical card holders)
- ¤150.00 appeal to the Information Commissioner
- ¤50.00 appeal to the Information Commissioner (medical card holders)
- ¤50.00 Third Party appeal to the Information Commissioner
- ¤20.95 per hour - search and retrieval
- ¤0.04 per sheet for a photocopy
- ¤0.51 for a 3 and a half inch computer diskette
- ¤10.16 for a CD-ROM
- ¤6.35 for a Radiograph (X-Ray)
How do I make an FOI request?
Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing to the Department's FOI Unit, should refer to the Act and be accompanied by the appropriate fee (if applicable). If information is required in a particular form (e.g. photocopy, computer disk, etc.) this should be specified in the application. Requests should be as specific as possible to enable the information sought to be identified. Where possible please try to indicate the time period for which you wish to access records e.g. records created between May 2001 and December, 2001. Also, if possible, try to specify the areas of the Department which you feel would be most relevant to your request. You can use the Department's FOI Application Form to request this information.
- Your application should be in writing and must be accompanied by an application fee. The standard application fee is currently set at ¤15 with a reduced fee of ¤10 applying if a requester is covered by a medical card. Payment should be made by way of bank draft, money order, postal order or cheque drawn on a bank in the Republic of Ireland made payable to “Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation”. There is no application fee for a request relating to personal information. You may use the form entitled ‘Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Acts, which is widely available or the Department’s version of this form. This form is also available from the FOI Unit of the Department. If you are not using the form outlined above, then your application should indicate that the information is sought under Freedom of Information Acts.
- If you require a reply in a particular format i.e. photocopy, computer disk, etc. please mention this in your application.
- Please be as detailed and as specific as possible when compiling your application as this will assist the Department’s FOI Unit in dealing with it. It can also result in lesser charges being incurred on search and retrieval in cases where these fall to be paid. Where possible please try to indicate the time period for which you wish to access records e.g. records created between May 1998 and December, 1998. Also, if possible, try to specify the areas of the Department which you feel would be most relevant to your request. If you have any difficulty in preparing your application the staff of the FOI Unit will be happy to assist you in this regard.
- You may be required to prove your identity, especially when seeking personal information, so you may, therefore, be asked to produce your Birth Certificate, Driving Licence, Passport or other form of identity.
- Please include a day time telephone number, if possible, so that you may be contacted quickly if it is necessary to clarify details of your request.
- Please ensure that the correct application fee is submitted in respect of all non-personal requests . If claiming a reduced application fee, the request must also be accompanied by the Medical Card registration number, issuing Health Board and your consent to the verification of these details with the Health Board.
The following records come within the scope of the FOI Act:
- all records relating to personal information held by the Department irrespective of when they were created
- all other records created from the commencement of the FOI Act (21 April 1998)
- any records necessary to the understanding of a current record even if created prior to 21 April 1998
- personnel records of serving staff created from 21st April, 1995 and those created prior to that date where being used or proposed to be used in a way which adversely affects or may affect the person involved.
However, in order to allow Government business to be properly conducted, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information in some circumstances. These are set out in the Act. Among the key exemptions are records relating to:
- Government meetings,
- law enforcement and security,
- confidential and commercially sensitive information, personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request).
How soon can a person making a request for records expect a reply?
Under the Act a request for records must be acknowledged within 2 weeks and, in most cases, responded to within 4 weeks. A week is defined in the Act to mean 5 consecutive week-days, excluding Saturdays and public holidays (Sundays are also excluded as they are not considered week-days). If a third party is involved there may be another three weeks before a response issues.
What's the next step if I am unhappy with a decision on my request?
If you are dissatisfied with the Department's response you can seek to have a decision re-examined by a more senior member of staff within the Department. Applications for review of a decision, together with a fee of ¤75.00 or a reduced fee of ¤25.00 for medical card holders should be addressed to:
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Note: These fees apply only to Non Personal requests.
If you are still unhappy with the decision, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Information Commissioner. Applications with appropriate fees (¤150.00 or a reduced fee of ¤50.00 for medical card holders) should be forwarded directly to the following address:
Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Phone: (01) 6785222
Fax: (01) 6610570
Can I get help in making a request?
Yes, if you require any help the staff of the FOI Unit will be happy to assit you in the formulation of your request. The Unit is also available to provide assistance to persons with a disability to exercise their rights under the FOI Act (e.g. accepting oral requests from requesters who are unable to read, print and/or write due to their disability, enabling the requester to inspect or have records explained to him or her). The Unit can be contacted at:
Freedom of Information Unit,
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,
Tel: 6312375 / 2398
In Ireland, the FOI Act has been introduced on a phased basis. It commenced from 21st April, 1998 and applied, at the outset, to central Governmental Departments and certain bodies listed in the First Schedule of the Act. Section 5 of the First Schedule of the FOI Act provides for further extension of the Act following consultation between the Minister for Finance and other relevant Ministers. The thinking behind this phased approach to FOI is that bodies to which the Act is being gradually extended can benefit from the experience and expertise resulting from the successful implementation of FOI in the original organisations chosen. (List of Government Departments and Public Bodies covered by the FOI Act.)
Last modified: 07/06/2011