FOI requests fall by a third in Ireland

Ireland's Department of Finance has published its seventh annual report on Freedom of Information. The statistics reveal that the number of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act dropped by almost a third for the first full year since charges were introduced.

Fees for obtaining information under Ireland's FOI Act were introduced on 7 July 2003. The figures show that there were 12,597 applications in 2004, compared to 18,443 in 2003. The percentage of requests made by journalists almost halved, down to 7% from 13% in 2003, while the percentage of requests coming from the public had increased from 71% to 77%.

According to Ireland on-line: "Requests from businesses accounted for 8% of the total – down from 9% last year – while members of staff of public bodies made 7% of the applications, compared to 5% last year. Just 1% of requests came from public representatives, down from 2% in 2003. The percentage of applications by people seeking personal information about themselves rose again last year, up to 77% from 71% in 2003, and 69% in 2002. But the number of requests for non-personal information more than halved, dropping from 7,216 in 2003 to 3,189 last year. More than 81% of requests were fully or partly granted, the statistics published today revealed."

Finance spokesman for the Green Party, Dan Boyle, stated: “This Government is behaving shamefully in not properly acknowledging the extent to which its amendments have demolished Irish citizen rights to information.”

Freedom of information requests fall (Ireland on-line website, 26 August 2005)