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Information Commissioner wants FOI legislation extended

Emily O’Reilly has said the general public should be able to place Freedom of Information requests with public bodies like the gardaí, Central Bank and NAMA.

Emily O'Reilly, the Information Commissioner.
Emily O'Reilly, the Information Commissioner.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER has called for Freedom of Information request legislation extended to include public bodies like the gardaí, Central Bank and NAMA.

Publishing her annual report, Emily O’Reilly said that there had been a seven per cent increase in FOI requests to public bodies over the year, RTÉ reports. She praised the new administration for including in their Programme for Government a commitment to extending the remit of FOI legislation.

O’Reilly called for a removal of restrictions on FOI requests that were imposed in 2003 – a decision she called “totally unacceptable” - and also for the abolition of “punitive” fees associated with making requests.

She said that the gardaí, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, the Central Bank, the National Treasury Management Agency and NAMA should all be subject to FOI requests. O’Reilly pointed out that the exclusion of bodies like NAMA and the Central Bank meant the general public were unable to ask questions about what led to the current economic crisis – the cost of which is being shouldered by the taxpayer, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Commissioner strongly disagreed with the suggestion put forth in the recent Wright report, which recommended that the advice given by the Department of Finance to the Minister for Finance should be protected from FOI requests for five years, reports the Irish Times.

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