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Pivotal ruling may subject Nama to information requests

The highly secretive National Assets Management Agency may be laid open to information inquiries following a landmark ruling by the Information Commissioner – which could also potentially impact companies like Anglo Irish Bank.

Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly.
Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE NATIONAL ASSETS Management Agency (Nama) may be forced to be more transparent about its operations following a ruling by the Information Commissioner, which concluded that the agency is subject to freedom of information requests.

The ruling comes following investigations by journalist Gavin Sheridan of TheStory.ie, who sought information from the agency last year under the 2007 Environmental Information Regulations statutory instrument. The highly secretive agency refused the request to supply information on the basis that it did not consider itself a “public authority” as identified in the regulations.

However, after Sheridan appealed the decision to the Commissioner for Environmental Information and forwarded further submissions, the matter was eventually passed to Emily O’Reilly, the Information Commissioner.

Yesterday, O’Reilly annulled the original ruling – saying that the agency is a public authority within the meaning of the regulations – making the landmark decision that Nama should be subject to information requests under environmental freedom of information.

Sheridan, who described the move as “a victory for transparency in Ireland”, said the decision may also impact Anglo Irish bank and other companies in which state has ownership.

Nama has eight weeks to appeal the decision.

Read Gavin Sheridan’s report on TheStory.ie>

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