Dáil Éireann - Volume 499 - 02 February, 1999
Written Answers - Freedom of Information Act.
Mr. Shatter Mr. Shatter
247. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of requests for information to his Department under the Freedom of  Information Act, 1997; the number initially refused; the number granted on appeal; the number in respect of which payments for collecting information have been sought from members of Dáil Éireann, members of Seanad Éireann and the public respectively; and the number of applications in each case where the payment sought has been discharged or reduced on appeal. [2668/99]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Since the Freedom of Information Act, 1997 came into operation on 21 April 1998, the Department of Health and Children has received 188 requests for access to records, 144 during 1998 and a further 44 during January 1999.
The Department has issued decisions on 150 requests: refusing access in 57 cases and granting partial access in 32 others. The Department has received 24 applications for internal review and issued decisions on 18 of these, releasing additional information in three cases.
There have been six appeals to the Information Commissioner. In one case the commissioner confirmed the records concerned were exempt, in another the Department was in a position to release the record which was no longer sensitive. The remainder are still under consideration.
 Section 47 requires public bodies to charge fees for search and retrieval of records but it is normally possible, in consultation with the requester, to narrow the focus of the request and minimise or eliminate the appropriate fee.
Payments were sought on three other occasions from corporate/journalism requesters: one of these was appealed and revised. Of the 14 requests received from members of Dáil Éireann, such payments were sought on two occasions. A review of one of these was sought and refused. There have been no requests from members of the Seanad.
Dáil Éireann 499 Written Answers Freedom of Information Act.