Author Archives: Simon McGarr
Do even Intelligence Reports have to pass into history eventually?
Sometimes looking at these files, you can understand that it would be a bad decision to release them. In particular, the files from An Garda Síochána are going to contain sensitive material. And, files containing Criminal Intelligence Reports (presumably, though I’m no expert, including data from informers) must surely be some of the most sensitive. And yet.. and yet. The National Archives Act allows that a file can hold both sensitive and non-sensitive historical records and, for a S8(4) certificate […]
These are all secret ditches. Stop looking at them.
Part of the reason I asked for these files was because I was curious as to how reflexively the state would want to keep things secret. The thirty year rule was set so that we could understand our own recent history and historians could, in future, make sense of the broader narrative of the State’s development. In a way, from my small 4-year sample, there’s an indication that, at least when it comes to historical documents, most departments aren’t trying […]
The Department of Foreign Affairs has a secret file on Shergar
I’m not sure I really need to say much more than that here. Seriously, a secret Shergar file, from the Irish Embassy in London. Who could resist? The info in file 3/175 runs from 1983 to 1984. I guess, seeing as Iveagh House isn’t going to tell us, we’ll have to rely on Tesco to spill the beans.
I’m sorry, I can’t tell you about the weather. It’s a secret.
Dealing with these files sometimes throws up questions of balance. After all, you can see why personal data relating to job inquiries or sometimes even sensitive family matters such as adoptions shouldn’t be released heedlessly into the public domain. But in 2013 the Department of Foreign Affairs decided that file 250/1048, containing “Meteorological Data” covering the years 1953-1981 should be kept secret. The Certificate cites Section 8(4)(a) which requires that the file being withheld shouldn’t be released because it (a) would […]
What? It was just some perfectly normal fertiliser we were getting the Army to test
This is doubtless just your standard fertiliser to make daffodils and such bloom even more lovely. It’s just that, for whatever reason, the Department of Justice thinks that the details of what happened between 1978 and 1981 when they explored the manufacturing of fertiliser by getting the army to test it are still not ready to see the light of day, some thirty years later.
Three days that shook the CSO
I have no idea what happened over the Halloween Bank Holiday weekend of 1971. I mean, I’m sure lots of things must have happened. But whatever it was that happened in the “Central Statsitics Office Establishment” that weekend, the Department of the Taoiseach thinks that thirty years isn’t enough time for us to know.
These things are, officially, secret
I’ve written before about the Irish state’s love of all things secret. When I went rummaging in the legislation that governs how the state keeps things from becoming known I spotted one little moment in the chain when we could- at least obliquely- get a peep at what was being hidden from us. Every year, the state’s agencies and ministries are meant to send their files that are 30 years old to the National Archives, where they are free for […]
After Schrems hearing, Government scraps Cloud Computing plan
Two days after the EU Commission admits to Europe’s top court that they’re not assured of the security of EU citizens’ data when it’s transferred to the US, Ireland’s government scraps their cloud computing plan. I predicted the problems EU data protection law posed for Cloud Computing in this article for the Irish Times from 2009.
Digital Rights Ireland files Amicus Brief in Microsoft v USA with Liberty and ORG
Microsoft -v- USA is an important ongoing case, currently listed for hearing in 2015 before the US Federal Court of Appeal of the 2nd Circuit. You can read about why this case is significant for Microsoft on their official blog. However, as the case centres around the means by which NY law enforcement are seeking to access data of an email account which resides in Dublin, it is also crucially significant to Ireland and the rest of the EU. For […]
Irish Water, PPSNs and the missing Minister’s agreement
When challenged on how it has the right to ask for people’s PPS numbers, Irish Water has said that it is a specified body under statute. This is a reference to Section 20 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2014. This section did add Irish Water to the list of specified bodies set out in Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. S 262(4) and Sec 262(6) of the same Act are the ones which control what a specified body may […]