President Michael D Higgins signed the new Freedom of Information Act 2014 into law this week, Tuesday 14th October.
The FOI Act 2014 gives people a right of access to records held by many public bodies including Government Departments, the HSE and Local Authorities.
The new law extends the scope of FOI legislation to cover limited areas of An Garda Síochana, the Central Bank and refugee agencies, as well as NAMA, the NTMA and the National Pension Reserve Fund.
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 reverses many of the restrictions imposed when the previous act was brought in by the Fianna Fáil / Progressive Democrats coalition.
It eliminates up front application fees of €15 when making FOI applications which were introduced in the older Act.
However, reduced charges still apply for appeals.
In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a Freedom of Information request within 4 weeks of receiving it. The Office of the Information Commissioner then reviews these decisions.
Voluntary hospitals, major providers of services to people with disabilities, some broadcasters and third level bodies also fall under the Act – as does Irish Water. A full list of organisations covered by the Act is available here, while information on how to make an FOI request can be found here.
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