The Freedom of Information Act, 1997 came into effect for Local Authorities, which consists of Louth County Council, Dundalk Town Coucil, Drogheda Borough Council on 21 October, 1998 and was updated more recently by the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act, 2003.
These Acts give you the legal right to:
- to access information held by Louth County Council
- to have official information relating to yourself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
- obtain reasons for decisions affecting himself/herself.
You do not have to give a reason as to why you want to see any records. If you are refused access the relevant Authority must give you an explanation as to why you are refused access. A decision on your application must normally be made within 4 weeks.
What can I ask for?
You can ask for the following records held by Louth Local Authority or other public bodies covered by the Acts:
- any records relating to you personally, whenever they were created
- all other records created after 21 April, 1998
- a "record" can be a paper document, information held on computer,printouts, maps, plans, microfilm, microfiche, audio-visual material, etc.
Please ensure that you submit your request to the appropriate body in each case. It is best not to assume that the record you require actually exists. If you are in any doubt please telephone Liz Duff on 042 9324124, before submitting your request.
How to Apply
It is important to note that it may not be necessary to make a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act. A considerable amount of material is already made available to the public through publications and under other pieces of legislation. The relevant section should be able to tell you whether you can access the information without going through the Freedom of Information route.
If the information you require is not readily available, you must make your request in writing to the Freedom of Information Officer stating the request is under the Freedom of Information Act. If your application for information does not mention the Act, then your application will be dealt with as an ordinary request for information. If information is required in a particular form (e.g. photocopy, computer disk, etc.,) this should be specified in the application.
Try to be as specific as you can in order to enable the organisation to identify the information you require. Where possible try to indicate the time period for which you wish to access records (e.g., records created between May 1998 and December 1998).
If your request is for non-personal records then, your request must be accompanied by €15.00, to be considered a valid request.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, a request for records must be acknowledged within 2 weeks and, in most cases, responded to within 4 weeks. If a third party is involved, there may be another three weeks before a response.
Where to Apply
FOI requests should be addressed to:
Can I appeal against the decision?
Yes. If you are not satisfied with any aspect of your request for information, (i.e., refusal of information, form of access, charges) or you have not received a reply within 4 weeks of your initial application you may ask the relevant Authority for an "internal review" of the decision. A more senior officer will review your application. You will be told the result of this review within 3 weeks.
If you are not satisfied with the decision on "internal review", you may ask the Information Commissioner to review the matter. The Information Commissioner can be contacted by phoning 1890 223030 or by firstname.lastname@example.org
Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts, 1997 and 2003, and of the relevant regulations in certain cases a fee must be paid at the time of the making of a request or an appeal. This requirement to pay a fee came into force on 7 July 2003. Fees are not payable where the record(s) concerned contains or contain only personal information relating to the requester. If the fee is not paid the request/appeal is deemed not to have been made. However, in certain circumstances, no fee is payable or reduced fees may apply
The details of when payment is necessary, and the rates of payment, are set out below
|Type of Request / Appeal||Original Request||Internal Review||Appeal to OIC|
|Access to personal information relating to the applicant||No Fee||No Fee||No Fee|
|Amendment to records (Section 17 of FOI Act)||No Fee||No Fee||No Fee|
|Statement of reasons (Section 18 of FOI Act)||No Fee||No Fee||No Fee|
|Appeal of decision to charge a fee||No Fee||No Fee||No Fee|
|Request to which Section 28(6) of the Act applies||No Fee||No Fee||No Fee|
|Access to a non-personal record by a non-medical card holder||€15||€75||€150|
|Request for a non-personal record by medical card holder or dependant of medical card holder||€10||€25||€50|
|Third parties appealing a decision of a public body to release their information on public interest grounds||-||-||€50|
Do I have to fill in a form?
No, but you must make your request in writing. Please ensure that you include a statement in your letter making it clear that the request for information is made under the Freedom of Information Acts.
For further information
Louth County Council, in keeping with the spirit of information, seeks to deal with all applications as quickly and helpfully as possible.
For further general information on Freedom of Information, you can log onto the Office of the Information Commissioner at www.oic.gov.ie/en/