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FOI Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information Act, 2014 gives the public greater access to records relating to the workings of Government and public bodies, including An Garda Síochána. It is designed to provide greater openness and transparency; increase accountability and improve the quality of decision making of FOI bodies.

The Act requires FOI bodies to respond to requests from the public for records they hold.  In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a request within 20 working days of receiving it.  Also, FOI bodies are required to routinely publish certain information under the Act. They are also encouraged to publish as much information as possible outside of what is required under the Act.

What rights does the Freedom of Information Act grant?

The Act provides that from the 21st April 2008 (effective date), every person has the following legal rights:

• The right to access official records held by Government Departments or other public   bodies as defined by the Act

• The right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such   information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading

• The right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them.

Regulations provide that parents, guardians and next-of-kin may apply to exercise these rights in certain circumstances.

The Act also contains some exemptions that may limit the information that can be provided. Under the Act An Garda Síochána is only partially included and therefore can only provide records relating to Human Resources, Finance and Procurement.

Exemptions as set out in the Act can be found here.

What types of information can I seek from An Garda Síochána?

An Garda Síochána was among a number of bodies that were designated “partially included agencies” under the FOI Act. This means that only certain types of records will be considered under the FOI Act. In the case of An Garda Síochána the Act restricts access to those functions or processes that relate to the administration or management of the organisation, and only in relation to matters concerning Human Resources, or Finance or Procurement matters. Records relating to other functions of AGS, such as the investigation of criminal activity, are excluded from the ambit of the Act.

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