Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 24 October, 2002
Written Answers. - Freedom of Information.
Mr. Ring Mr. Ring
135. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will refer files to the Garda Síochána where it is established that his Department has altered or withheld documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act, 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19571/02]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell)
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): My Department is committed to the full and effective implementation of the Freedom of Information – FOI – Act, and disclosure of information is made in accordance with the law in all cases.
The long title of the Act states that the intention of the Act is to “enable members of the public to obtain access, to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy, of information in the possession of public bodies”. However, in order to allow Government business to be properly conducted the Act recognises that it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information in some circumstances. The exemptions that may be applicable to certain records, held by public bodies, are set out in sections 19 to 32, inclusive, of the Act. Among the key exemptions are records relating to: Government meetings; law enforcement and security; confidential and commercially sensitive information; personal information, other than information relating to the person making the request.
Section 13 of the Act also allows for public bodies to grant access to part of records. Where part of a record is deemed to be exempt, section 13 of the Act provides for access to the remainder, where this is practical and does not mislead. The public body is required to comply with this section when it is practicable to do so. Accordingly, the question of referring files to the Garda Síochána, where decisions have been made in accordance with the provisions of the Act, to refuse or part grant access to records does not arise.
Dáil Éireann 556 Written Answers. Freedom of Information.