Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly has criticised the practice of removing public bodies from the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

In her annual report, Ms O'Reilly says there has been a 51% increase in the number of FoI requests to the Department of Finance.

Read the full report

Overall there has been a 13% increase in the number of FoI requests to public bodies last year.

Ms O'Reilly criticised the practice of removing bodies normally under the scope of the FoI Act without informing her office.

She expressed concern over the number of public bodies, which remain outside the scope of the Act.

The report found there is a lower rate of information released from the civil service, and the civil service is less likely to grant full release of records than other public bodies.

The Commissioner issued a total of three orders forcing public bodies to release information last year.

Section 37 of the Act empowers the Commissioner to order the release of information. RTÉ, the Department of Justice and Cavan Town Council were subject to such orders.

Ms O'Reilly said in the case of RTÉ, its failure to release information, which fell under the terms of the Act caused many hours of work to be undertaken by her officials and staff of RTÉ.

She said this delayed the receipt of information to which the applicant was entitled.

The order related to a request it provide records of credit card expenditure and receipts incurred by members of the RTÉ Executive Board for 2007 and 2008.

Information on NAMA

The Information Commissioner has said the appropriate release of records relating to the work of NAMA would help the public participate in an informed debate into how public bodies conduct their affairs.

Ms O'Reilly said such a release of NAMA information would not reduce the seriousness of the current financial crisis but said a release of how it carried out its functions could be beneficial.

She said information on performance bonuses to NAMA staff, procurement and tender processes and other such information could be deemed suitable for release.

Ms O'Reilly said there had been no negative impact on the delivery of services since Government departments, the Health Service Executive and other bodies were subject to the FoI Act.