The FOI Acts 1997 and 2003 establish three statutory rights:
- the right to access records held by public bodies covered by the Act
- the right to have personal information in a record amended where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
- the right to obtain reasons for decisions taken by public bodies affecting the person.
The Act distinguishes between personal and non-personal information. You can access your personal information regardless of when it was created if it is still in existence. You can only access non-personal information which has been created since the 21st April 1998 (i.e. commencement date of the Act) except in very specific circumstances.
It is important to note that access to records is not always granted. Your request may be part-granted, or refused in full, if part of the information, or all of it, falls to be exempt under a section of the Act. The Act provides for the refusal of information in various circumstances. For further information on exemptions please click on the following link: http://foi.gov.ie/chapter-4-exemptions/
How to Apply
You should make your request in writing to :
The Freedom of Information Unit, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1
If you are seeking non-personal information, you must submit a fee of €15 (€10 for medical card holders) along with your request. The fee should be submitted in the form of a cheque or postal money order made out to The Accountant, Department of Education and Skills. There is no up-front fee for personal requests.
When making your request, you should state that you are making your request under the FOI Act. You should also be as specific as possible to enable the information to be identified easily and, if possible, indicate the time-frame which applies to your request e.g. between May 2011-December 2011. Also, if possible, try to specify the areas of the Department which you feel would be most relevant to your request. The Department’s Section 15 and 16 Reference books which provide information in relation to the structure of the Department, its records and its decision making may help you to identify relevant areas. Please access: Section 15 Manual / Section 16 Manual If you wish you can use the Department's standard FOI Application Form to make your request or the Application Form for Former Residents of Industrial and Reformatory Schools for Access to Records depending on the type of information which you are seeking.
If you are unhappy with the decision which is made on your request, you can appeal it by making an application for an internal review. A fee of €75 (€25 for medical card holders) applies to requests for an internal review. There is no fee for an internal review of a request for personal information or in the case of a late decision on a non-personal request.