Over 30,000 requests were made under the Freedom of Information Act last year, an increase of 8%, and the highest number ever recorded.

The number of applications to the Information Commissioner to review FOI decisions rose by 32% in the same year, with a total of 440 applications. 

The figures were released in the annual report of the Information Commissioner for 2016.

The bodies which received the most requests were the Health Service Executive, the Department of Social Protection, Tallaght Hospital, and Tusla.

The number of FOI requests made to An Garda Síochána increased by 150%, from 183 in 2015 to 459 last year.

The Information Commissioner has said the majority of requests continue to be for personal information, but there has been a big increase in requests from journalists.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Peter Tyndall said there has been very considerable growth since the removal of the charge for journalists for information.

But he said some bodies are reluctant to release information.

In one case the Information Commissioner directed An Garda Síochána to release information relating to its staffing levels.

He said he considered using his powers for the first time to apply for a court order to require An Garda Síochána to comply with his decision. 

11 weeks after the decision it finally released the information.

He said 2016 was the worst year recorded by his office for public bodies failing to provide timely decisions.

In 24% of cases accepted by his office no decision was issued by the body at either the original decision or internal review stage. 

There were 105 cases in total in this regard, of which 20 involved Tusla.