FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1997

Interpretation.

2

2. (1) In this Act, save where the context otherwise requires—

commencement of this Act” means the time at which this Act (other than subparagraphs (3) and (4) of paragraph 1 of the First Schedule ) comes into operation;

the Commissioner” means, as the context may require, the Office of Information Commissioner established by section 33 or the holder of that office;

determined” means determined by the Minister and, in relation to a form, means determined having had appropriate regard to the needs of requesters, and cognate words shall be construed accordingly;

director” means a director (within the meaning of the Companies Acts, 1963 to 1990) but includes, in the case of a local authority or F1 [ , the Health Service Executive, the Child and Family Agency ] or any other public body that is not a company (within the meaning of the Companies Act, 1963) or, being a body, organisation or group (other than a company) specified in subparagraph (b) (i), (c), (e), (f) or (g) of subparagraph (5) of paragraph 1 of the First Schedule , stands prescribed for the time being pursuant to that subparagraph, a person who is a member of it or a member of any board or other body that controls, manages or administers it, and any cognate words shall be construed accordingly;

enactment” means a statute or an instrument made under a power conferred by a statute;

exempt record” means—

( a) a record in relation to which the grant of a request under section 7 would be refused pursuant to Part III or by virtue of section 46 , or

( b) a record that is created for or held by an office holder and relates to the functions or activities of—

(i) the office holder as a member of the Oireachtas or a political party, or

(ii) a political party;

F2 [ factual information includes information of a statistical, econometric or empirical nature, together with any analysis thereof; ]

functions” includes powers and duties and references to the performance of functions include, with respect to powers and duties, references to the exercise of the powers and the carrying out of the duties;

give” includes send, whether by post or electronic or other means, and cognate words shall be construed accordingly;

head” means head of a public body;

head of a public body” means—

( a) in relation to a Department of State, the Minister of the Government having charge of it,

( b) in relation to the Office of the Tánaiste, the Tánaiste,

( c) in relation to the Office of the Attorney General, the Attorney General,

( d) in relation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Director of Public Prosecutions,

( e) in relation to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Comptroller and Auditor General,

( f) in relation to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman,

( g) in relation to the Office of the Commissioner, the Commissioner,

( h) F3 [ ]

( i) F3 [ ]

( j) in relation to the F4 [ Houses of the Oireachtas Service ], the Chairman of Dáil Éireann,

F5 [ ( ja ) in relation to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, the chairperson of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, ]

F6 [ ( jj ) in relation to the office of the Ombudsman for Children, the Ombudsman for Children, ]

F7 [ ( jjj ) in relation to the office of Pensions Ombudsman, the Pensions Ombudsman, ]

( k) in relation to any other public body, the person who holds, or performs the functions of, the office of chief executive officer (by whatever name called) of the body;

F8 [ local authority means a local authority for the purposes of the Local Government Act 2001 ; ]

the Minister” means the Minister for Finance;

Office”, in relation to a person, means the offices in which the administration and business relating to the functions of the person are carried on;

office holder” means—

( a) a person who is a Minister of the Government or a Minister of State, or

( b) a member of either House of the Oireachtas who holds the office of Attorney General;

personal information” means information about an identifiable individual that—

( a) would, in the ordinary course of events, be known only to the individual or members of the family, or friends, of the individual, or

( b) is held by a public body on the understanding that it would be treated by it as confidential,

and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, includes—

(i) information relating to the educational, medical, psychiatric or psychological history of the individual,

(ii) information relating to the financial affairs of the individual,

(iii) information relating to the employment or employment history of the individual,

(iv) information relating to the individual in a record falling within section 6 (6) (a) ,

(v) information relating to the criminal history of the individual,

(vi) information relating to the religion, age, sexual orientation or marital status of the individual,

(vii) a number, letter, symbol, word, mark or other thing assigned to the individual by a public body for the purpose of identification or any mark or other thing used for that purpose,

(viii) information relating to the entitlements of the individual under the Social Welfare Acts as a beneficiary (within the meaning of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993) or required for the purpose of establishing whether the individual, being a claimant (within the meaning aforesaid), is such a beneficiary,

(ix) information required for the purpose of assessing the liability of the individual in respect of a tax or duty or other payment owed or payable to the State or to a local authority, F9 [ the Health Service Executive, the Child and Family Agency ] or other public body or for the purpose of collecting an amount due from the individual in respect of such a tax or duty or other payment,

(x) the name of the individual where it appears with other personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would, or would be likely to, establish that any personal information held by the public body concerned relates to the individual,

(xi) information relating to property of the individual (including the nature of the individual's title to any property), and

(xii) the views or opinions of another person about the individual,

but does not include—

(I) in a case where the individual holds or held office as a director, or occupies or occupied a position as a member of the staff, of a public body, the name of the individual or information relating to the office or position or its functions or the terms upon and subject to which the individual holds or held that office or occupies or occupied that position or anything written or recorded in any form by the individual in the course of and for the purpose of the performance of the functions aforesaid,

(II) in a case where the individual is or was providing a service for a public body under a contract for services with the body, the name of the individual or information relating to the service or the terms of the contract or anything written or recorded in any form by the individual in the course of and for the purposes of the provision of the service, or

(III) the views or opinions of the individual in relation to a public body, the staff of a public body or the business or the performance of the functions of a public body;

political party” means a party registered in the Register of Political Parties;

prescribed” means prescribed by the Minister by regulations under section 3 ;

public body” shall be construed in accordance with the First Schedule ;

record” includes any memorandum, book, plan, map, drawing, diagram, pictorial or graphic work or other document, any photograph, film or recording (whether of sound or images or both), any form in which data (within the meaning of the Data Protection Act, 1988) are held, any other form (including machine-readable form) or thing in which information is held or stored manually, mechanically or electronically and anything that is a part or a copy, in any form, of any of the foregoing or is a combination of two or more of the foregoing F2 [ and a copy, in any form, of a record shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to have been created at the same time as the record; ];

request to which section 29 applies” means a request under section 7 to which section 26 (3), 27 (3) or 28 (5) applies and which, apart from section 29 , would fall to be granted;

requester” means a person who makes a request under section 7 ;

the right of access” shall be construed in accordance with section 6 ;

F2 [ week means a period of 5 consecutive week-days and, in determining such a period, a Saturday or a public holiday (within the meaning of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 ) shall be disregarded and weeks shall be construed accordingly. ]

(2) A power conferred by this Act to draw up and publish guidelines or to make determinations shall be construed as including a power exercisable in the like manner to revoke or amend guidelines or determinations drawn up and published or, as the case may be, made under the power.

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting or restricting access by a public body to a record held by another public body.

(4) A reference in section 7, 8, 14, 17 or 18 in relation to a request under section 7 or the receipt of such a request or to an application under section 14 (2) , 17 (1) or 18 (1) , to the head of a public body shall be construed as including a reference to the body and to any director or member of the staff thereof, and this Act shall, with any necessary modifications, apply and have effect accordingly.

(5) In this Act—

( a) a reference to records held by a public body includes a reference to records under the control of the body,

( b) a reference to a Part, section or Schedule is a reference to a Part or section of, or a Schedule to, this Act unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended, and

( c) a reference to a subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, clause or subclause is a reference to a subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, clause or subclause of the provision in which the reference occurs, unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended, and

( d) a reference to any enactment is a reference to that enactment as amended, adapted or extended by or under any subsequent enactment.

Annotations:

Amendments:

F1

Substituted (1.01.2014) by Child and Family Agency Act 2013 (40/2013), s. 97 and sch. 2 pt. 9, S.I. No. 502 of 2013.

F2

Inserted (11.04.2003) by Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 (9/2003), s. 2, commenced on enactment.

F3

Deleted (6.10.2004) by Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 (33/2004), s. 61(1) and sch.2 pt.1, commenced on enactment, subject to transitional provision in s. 63.

F4

Substituted (1.01.2010) by Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Act 2009 (44/2009), s. 14 and sch. pt. 1, commenced by s. 15(3).

F5

Inserted (1.01.2007) by Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Act 2006 (39/2006), s. 12, commenced as per s. 13(3).

F6

Inserted (25.04.2004) by Ombudsman For Children Act 2002 (22/2002), s. 20(a), S.I. No. 925 of 2004.

F7

Inserted (2.09.2003) by Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2003 (4/2003), s. 23(a), S.I. No. 399 of 2003.

F8

Substituted (11.04.2003) by Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 (9/2003), s. 2, commenced on enactment.

F9

Substituted (1.01.2014) by Child and Family Agency Act 2013 (40/2013). s. 97 and sch. 2 pt. 9, S.I. No. 502 of 2013.

F10

Inserted by Legal Services Ombudsman Act 2009 (8/2009), s. 36(a), not commenced as of date of revision.

Modifications (not altering text):

C19

Prospective amending provision: definition of “head of public body” amended by insertion of para (jjjj) by Legal Services Ombudsman Act 2009 (8/2009), s. 36(a), not commenced as of date of revision.

F10 [ ( jjjj ) in relation to the Office of Legal Services Ombudsman, the Legal Services Ombudsman, ]

C20

Definitions of Public Appointments Service and Commission extended where appropriate and subject to other provisions (6.10.2004) by Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 (33/2004), s. 63, commenced on enactment.

References to dissolved bodies in enactments.

63.—(1) Where in any enactment there is a reference, however expressed, to either or both of the dissolved bodies, then the reference shall, where appropriate and subject to the other provisions of this Act, be read—

( a) in so far as it relates only to the conduct of competitions, as a reference to the Public Appointments Service, and

( b) in every other case, as a reference to the Commission.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be read as restricting any power duly exercisable to amend or otherwise affect an enactment made under any Act.

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