List of Frequently Asked Questions:
Freedom of Information is a statutory right conferred on all members of the public to:
- The greatest extent possible be consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy,
- Seek access to official information held by public bodies including Government Departments, Health Boards and Local Authorities.
- It also includes information relating to oneself.
- It provides for greater transparency and accountability in the conduct of official activities.
An Garda Síochána is a partially included agency under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 “insofar as it relates to administrative records relating to human resources, or finance or procurement matters”. The term "administrative records" is understood to mean records relating to the processes of running and managing a business or organisation. As a result, the FOI Act excludes operational policing matters such as the prevention and detection of crimes.
Only requests for records concerning the following areas may be considered for release:
- Human Resources – records which relate to personal records of staff working within An Garda Síochána. They also relate to statistical information in respect of the organisation, e.g. resources, sick leave, discipline, suspensions, retirements, bullying and harassment complaints, etc.
- Finance – records which relate to the financial expenditure of the organisation
- Procurement – records which relate to the contracting of services and the tendering process associated with same
Only members of staff within the Garda organisation can seek personal information in respect of themselves. Requests from members of the public relating to personal information held about them by An Garda Síochána should be addressed to the Data Protection Office.
An Garda Síochána became subject to the FOI Act on 15th October 2015 and records subject to review are retrospective to 21st April 2008. The only exemption to this is where personal records are sought.
Section 42 of the FOI Act places restrictions on certain records held by An Garda Síochána. These restrictions apply to records held or created that relate to any of the following:
- the Emergency Response Unit
- the Secret Service Fund maintained by it
- the Special Detective Unit (SDU)
- the Witness Protection Programme sponsored by it
- the Security and Intelligence Section
- the Management and use of covert intelligence operations
- the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993
- the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005
- the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009
- the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011
- a record held by the Criminal Assets Bureau
- a record relating to an inquiry within the meaning of Section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, other than a record relating to the appointment of a person to conduct and/or a record relating to the expenses or other matters concerning the general administration of an inquiry under that section.
Requests must be made in writing to An Garda Síochána for records. Requests can also be made by email. When you are submitting a request to An Garda Síochána, please ensure to:
- Specify that the request is being made under the FOI Act
- Be clear enough so that the FOI Office understands what records are being requested. In cases where the FOI Officer is not clear what records are being requested, they must assist the requester to put his/her request in such a way that the records being sought can be identified.
- When you are seeking information which is personal, you will be required to supply the appropriate identification as required by the FOI Officer. (this refers to staff members only)
No. There is no charge for making a personal or non-personal request. Other charges may be applied for the time spent finding records and for any photocopying costs incurred by An Garda Síochána in providing you with the material requested. Section 27 of theFOI Act provides for fees.
- €30.00 internal review fee - non personal requests
- €10.00 internal review fee (medical card holders)
- €50.00 appeal to the Information Commissioner
- €15.00 appeal to the Information Commissioner (medical card holders)
- €20 per hour for search and retrieval
- €0.04 per sheet for a photocopy
Can I appeal a decision?
- Yes. If you are not satisfied with the decision on an FOI request, you may ask the FOI Officer for an “internal review” of their decision. A more senior officer (Chief Superintendent/Principal Officer rank) will review your application. You will be told the result of this review within 3 weeks.
- If you are not satisfied with the decision of the “internal review”, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review the matter. This review may take up to 6 months.
Is there a charge for appealing a decision of a public body?
- A fee of €30 must accompany an application for internal review of a decision of the FOI Officer.
- A reduced fee of €10 applies if you are covered by a medical card.
- There is no fee for internal review applications concerning personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.
- A fee of €50 must accompany most applications for review by the Information Commissioner.
- A reduced fee of €15 applies if you are covered by a medical card or in relation to a review concerning certain third party information.
- There is no fee for review applications concerning personal information relating to oneself or in relation to decisions to impose fees or deposits.