Freedom of Information Act 2014
The Freedom of Information Act 1997 as amended by the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 obliged government departments, the Health Service Executive (HSE), local authorities and a range of other public bodies to publish information on their activities and to make the information they held, including personal information, available to citizens.
On 14 October 2014, the Freedom of Information Act 2014 came into effect and repealed the 1997 and 2003 Acts. The new Act introduced a number of changes to the Freedom of Information scheme and widened the range of bodies to which the FOI legislation applies to all public bodies, unless specifically exempt. It also allows for the Government to prescribe (or designate) other bodies receiving significant public funds, so that the FOI legislation applies to them also.
The old legislation continues to apply to any FOI request made before the new legislation came into effect. It also applies to any subsequent review or appeal.
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides the following statutory rights:
- A legal right for each person to access information held by a body to which FOI legislation applies
- A legal right for each person to have official information relating to himself/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
- A legal right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting himself/herself
Under Sections 15 and 16 of the old FOI legislation, information about the activities of bodies covered by the Freedom of Information Acts, and the records they held, were contained in their Freedom of Information manuals, which each body was obliged to publish. These Section 15 and 16 manuals are being replaced by a publication scheme under Section 8 of the 2014 Act. Section 8 is not yet in effect.
The publication scheme will contain the same information as published in the manuals, as well as any information that may be required under a model scheme or guidelines that the Minister for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform may set out.
Information that can be requested
- Any records relating personally to an individual, whenever they were created
- All other records created after a certain date:
21 October 1998 for the HSE and local authorities
21 April 1998 for public bodies that were covered by the old FOI legislation
21 April 2008 for public bodies that were not covered by the old FOI legislation
the date of the prescribing order (or a specified date) for prescribed bodies
A record can be a paper document or information held on computer. It includes, for example, printouts, maps, plans, microfilm, audio-visual material, disks and tapes.
Applying for information
FOI requests should be addressed to the FOI Unit of the body holding the records.