Freedom of Information Act 2014

2.

Interpretation

2. (1) In this Act—

“Act of 1997” means the Freedom of Information Act 1997;

“commencement of this Act” means the time at which this Act comes into operation in relation to the FOI body concerned;

“Commissioner” means the office of Information Commissioner continued in being by section 43 or the holder of that office, as the case may be;

“determined” means determined by the Minister and, in relation to a form, means determined having had appropriate regard to the needs of requesters;

“director” means a director (within the meaning of the Companies Acts) but includes in the case of—

(a) a local authority,

(b) the Health Service Executive,

(c) a public body that is not a company (within the meaning of the Companies Acts), or

(d) a prescribed body,

a person who is a member of any board or other body that controls, manages or administers an entity mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d);

“effective date” means:

(a) in the case of an entity that immediately prior to enactment of this Act was a public body within the meaning of the Act of 1997 (other than the Health Service Executive or a local authority), 21 April 1998;

(b) in the case of the Health Service Executive or a local authority, 21 October 1998;

(c) in the case of an entity that immediately prior to enactment of this Act, was not a public body within the meaning of the Act of 1997, but is a public body within the meaning of this Act, 21 April 2008, unless provision is made to the contrary by order under section 6 ;

(d) in the case of a prescribed body, the date that the order prescribing the body under section 7(1) is made, other than where a later date is specified in that order;

“electronic device” includes any device which uses any electrical, digital, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, biometric or photonic means, or other forms of related technology, or any combination thereof, to store or transmit data, or both store and transmit data;

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

“entity” means a person, body of persons, organisation or group;

“exempt record” means—

(a) a record in relation to which the grant of an FOI request would be refused pursuant to Part 4 or by virtue of Part 5, 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;

“factual information” includes information of a statistical, financial, econometric or empirical nature, together with any analysis thereof;

“FOI body” means a public body or a prescribed body;

“FOI request” means a request for access to a record pursuant to section 12 ;

“give” includes send, whether by post, electronic or other means;

F1 [ HBFI group entity has the same meaning as it has in the Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018; ]

“head” means head of an FOI body;

“head of an FOI 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 Attorney General, the Attorney General,

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

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

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

(f) in relation to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Commissioner,

(g) in relation to the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau, the Financial Services Ombudsman,

(h) in relation to the Office of the Local Appointments Commissioners, the Local Appointments Commissioners,

(i) in relation to the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann,

(j) in relation to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, its chairperson,

(k) in relation to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, the Ombudsman for Children,

(l) in relation to the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman, the Pensions Ombudsman,

(m) in relation to the Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman, the Legal Services Ombudsman,

(n) in relation to the Garda Síochána, the Garda Commissioner,

(o) in relation to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, its chairperson, and

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

“local authority” means a local authority for the purposes of the Local Government Act 2001;

“Minister” means the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform;

“network and information security” means the ability of a network and information system to resist accidental or malicious action that compromises the availability, authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of stored or transmitted data or the related services offered by or accessible via that network and information system;

“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, either—

(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 an FOI body on the understanding that it would be treated by that body 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’s membership or former membership of a trade union,

(v) information relating to the individual in a record falling within section 11(6)(a) ,

(vi) information relating to any criminal history of, or the commission or alleged commission of any offence by, the individual,

(vii) information relating to any proceedings for an offence committed, or alleged to have been committed, by the individual, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence imposed by any court in such proceedings,

(viii) information relating to the religion, age, racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or civil status (within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Civil Registration Act 2004) of, any disability of, or the political opinions or the religious or philosophical beliefs of, the individual,

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

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

(xi) 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, the Health Service Executive or other FOI body, or for the purpose of collecting an amount due from the individual in respect of such a tax or duty or other payment,

(xii) 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 FOI body concerned relates to the individual,

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

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

but does not include—

(I) in a case where the individual holds or held—

(A) office as a director of,

(B) a position as a member of the staff of, or

(C) any other office, or any other position, remunerated from public funds in,

an FOI 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 a service provider, 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 an FOI body, the staff of an FOI body or the business or the performance of the functions of an FOI body;

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

“prescribed” means prescribed by the Minister by regulations under this Act;

“prescribed body” means a body or entity declared to be such by the Minister by order pursuant to section 7 ;

“public body” means a body or entity referred to in section 6(1) ;

“record” includes—

(a) a book or other written or printed material in any form (including in any electronic device or in machine readable form),

(b) a map, plan or drawing,

(c) a disc, tape or other mechanical or electronic device in which data other than visual images are embodied so as to be capable, with or without the aid of some other mechanical or electronic equipment, of being reproduced from the disc, tape or other device,

(d) a film, disc, tape or other mechanical or electronic device in which visual images are embodied so as to be capable, with or without the aid of some other mechanical or electronic equipment, of being reproduced from the film, disc, tape or other device, and

(e) a copy or part of any thing which falls within paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d),

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 38 applies” means an FOI request to which section 35(3) , 36(3) or 37(5)(a) applies and which, apart from section 38 , would fall to be granted;

“requester” means a person who makes an FOI request;

“right of access” shall be construed in accordance with section 11 ;

“service provider” means a person who, at the time the request was made, was not an FOI body but was providing a service for an FOI body under a contract for services and contract for services in this definition includes an administrative arrangement between an FOI body and another person;

“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.

(2) A power conferred by this Act to make determinations shall be construed as including a power exercisable in the like manner to revoke or amend determinations made under the power.

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

(4) A reference in section 9 , 10 , 12 , 13 or 21 in relation to an FOI request or the receipt of such a request or to an application under section 9(1) , 10(1) or 21(2) , to the head of an FOI 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 reference to records held by an FOI body includes a reference to records under the control of that body.

Annotations:

Amendments:

F1

Inserted (5.12.2018) by Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018 (28/2018), s. 20(a), S.I. No. 518 of 2018.

Modifications (not altering text):

C2

Reference to Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau and the Financial Services Ombudsman construed (1.01.2018) by Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 (22/2017), ss. 8(1)(a), 27 and 29(3), S.I. Nos. 524 and 525 of 2017.

Appointment of Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman

8. (1) The Minister, having consulted the Minister for Social Protection, from among persons in respect of whom a recommendation for the purposes of this section has been made by the Public Appointments Service consequent upon the holding of a competition in accordance with the Act of 2004 in respect of each of those offices, shall appoint the following:

(a) a person to hold office known as an tOmbudsman Seirbhísí Airgeadais agus Pinsean or, in the English language, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (in this Act referred to as the “Ombudsman”);

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Dissolution of bodies

27. The following are dissolved on the establishment day:

(a) the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau;

(b) the Financial Services Ombudsman Council;

(c) the office of the Pensions Ombudsman.

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References in enactments

29. (1) References to any of the dissolved bodies (other than the Financial Services Ombudsman Council) in any enactment (other than this Act) or any instrument made under such an enactment shall, on and after the establishment day, be construed as references to the Office.

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(3) References to the Financial Services Ombudsman, the Deputy Financial Services Ombudsman or the Pensions Ombudsman in any enactment (other than this Act) or any instrument made under such an enactment shall, on and after the establishment day, be construed as references to the Ombudsman.