Freedom of Information requests increase by 8% in 2011

Wednesday 30 May 2012 17.49
FoI requests up by 8% in 2011
FoI requests up by 8% in 2011

Freedom of Information requests to public bodies rose by 8% in 2011 compared with 2010, according to the annual report of the Information Commissioner.

The report shows that there were 12,581 requests for personal information in 2011 - an increase of 17% on 2010.

Requests from journalists fell to 11% from 14% in 2010.

Requests to the Department of Education rose 47% over 2010 and requests to the Department of Social Protection rose by 29%.

The report also shows the largest number of FoI requests in 2011 were to the Health Service Executive at 6,141, up from 5,479 in 2010.

Speaking at the launch of her annual report, Ms O'Reilly said a blanket veto on the National Asset Management Agency coming under the FoI Act is not the appropriate thing to do.

She said there has been push back from NAMA Chairman Frank Daly against that body being covered under the Act.

She said Mr Daly may have his reasons for resisting FoI cover, but if he believes FoI will harm NAMA that should be debated and the possible harms identified.

The Information Commissioner said the Programme for Government includes a commitment to extend FoI cover to all public bodies, such as NAMA, the Central Bank, An Garda Síochána and VECs, and she understands that legislation is being prepared.

She said she had no information at this stage that NAMA's exclusion from FoI has been accepted by the Department of Public Expenditure.

Ms O'Reilly also said she does not think the Government is aware that a "major roadblock" has been put in place preventing adopted people accessing information relating to their origins following a Supreme Court ruling last year.

The ruling in the Rotunda case found that a man, now deceased, was not entitled to be told the date his natural mother gave birth to him back in 1922.

When she dealt with the case, Ms O'Reilly had ruled the information be released, but the Rotunda Hospital argued the woman had given her information to the hospital in confidence and refused.

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