Author Archives: Simon McGarr
Maybe it was the lateness of the hour or maybe it was just the effect of a couple of days of unexpected trouble but minister Brendan Howlin today told us why he wants to charge €15.00 in respect of FOI requests. The Minister was on his second day in Committee. The session had started with him announcing that he wanted to withdraw his controversial amendment to Section 12, multiplying Ireland’s FOI Fees. He wasn’t abandoning his plans, he had just […]
Brendan Howlin’s department is defending its plans to multiply FOI fees by relying on discredited figures originally produced by B. Ahern.
As you may know, I made efforts this August to highlight a problem with Section 17 of the new Freedom of Information Bill. I pointed out that S17(4) sets out that Civil Servants could pretend that their computer files were made of paper. See “The Irish State wishes to uninvent computers with new FOI Bill” for how that worked. I also said that I thought the intent in this perverse legislative drafting was to deprive Gavin Sheridan of TheStory.ie of […]
On Friday evening the Government was contacted by the the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) regarding Section 17(4) of the new Freedom of Information Bill. The OIC had called me earlier that day to discuss the concerns I’d expressed in my posts earlier in the week. At the end of my conversation with the OIC, Mr. Stephen Rafferty, a senior investigator at the OIC acknowledged that the wording of Section 17(4) was open to multiple interpretations. He said he […]
I told the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that if they would like to make a reply to my FOI Posts, I would publish it. You can read their response below. *** The FOI Act, like FOI Acts in other jurisdictions, provides for access to records which already exist and are held by public bodies consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy. The Act, similar to Acts in other jurisdictions, does not provide that in the […]
In case there is any doubt about why Section 17 (4) of the newly published Freedom of Information Bill was inserted, let us compare an enquiry from data journalist Gavin Sheridan with the new restrictions. Gavin asked the Department of the Taoiseach for: “A ‘datadump’, (ie a copy/export of) the Oracle financial management system in use by the Department covering the time period for 2010.” He also requested that the information be given to him in a new file of […]
The new Freedom of Information Bill was published on the 24th July. Mark Coughlan pointed out on twitter that Section 17 of the Act seemed to be a little… shall we say, backward? Section 17 (4) (b) in particular contains the following restriction on how much freedom you can expect your information to have. , the FOI body shall take reasonable steps to search for and extract the records to which the request relates, having due regard to the steps […]
As readers will know, I think journalism- in the sense of actually telling readers things they don’t know but ought to- is both rare and excellent. I also think that most of the paths journalism used to come to us are now blocked by a poverty of resources and ideas. So that’s why I was delighted to support the Guth magazine project on crowdsourcing site indigogo. Gerard Cunningham (@faduda) and Jason Walsh are attempting to do something new (which is […]
The Irish Times claims ownership over all entries to their Legends of the Fall short story competition, win or lose.
Digital Rights Ireland: Oral Submission to the European Court of Justice on the Data Retention Directive
McGarr Solicitors act for Digital Rights Ireland. The case of Digital Rights Ireland Limited, seeking to challenge Data Retention, reached a significant milestone on the 9th July 2013, when the case was heard before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The ECJ had received a referral from the Irish High Court, asking it to rule on the question of whether the Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24, to its friends) was compatible with basic EU laws. You can read the […]