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  1. #1
    Lassie Lassie is offline

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    Freedom of Information Act 2013 - A Promise Kept or a Pernicous Piece of Cynicism?

    UPDATE

    It's time to get onto your TDs .
    In relation to index of precedents. see below current legislation on current website in comparison with new legislation PDF.
    Why is this crucial legal requirement which assists the ordinary citizens being removed?


    Short guide to index of precedents from current website.

    PART 3
    Rights in relation to Records

    Chapter1
    General rights in relation to records and decisions

    Precedents refer to reasoned decisions previously made by public bodies which are used as standard interpretation in determining similar cases. By their nature, while some precedents will have general application to subsequent decisions, many will deal with very specific points of interpretation which may arise infrequently and only in respect of particular groups or narrow interests. For practical reasons therefore, public bodies are required to publish an index of these precedents only, alerting the public to their existence. In accordance with section 16(6), copies of precedents shall be made available on request.

    http://foi.gov.ie/chapter-2-publication-requirements/

    NEW LEGISLATION removed the Index in it's current form which can stand up in court. which is important for the ordinary citizen and democracy.
    PART 3
    Rights in relation to Records
    Chapter1
    General rights in relation to records and decisions
    Section 8deals with the publication of information about FOI
    bodies. This section replaces Sections 15 and 16 of the existing 1997
    Act which require that a public body must maintain manuals
    outlining its structures and functions, detailing the services it
    provides, indicating the types of records which it holds, decisions
    made, indexing precedents etc. Given developments since FOI was
    first introduced, these manuals are no longer considered ‘‘fit for
    purpose’’.



    Section 9 provides for the amendment of records relating to
    personal information and is similar in content to Section 17 of the
    1997 Act. It confers a legal right on each member of the public to
    require that personal information relating to oneself and held by an
    FOI body be amended, where it is incomplete, incorrect or
    misleading. This Section is also updated to integrate provisions made
    by SI under the 1997 Act (S.I. No. 518 of 1998) which provided that
    similar arrangements should be made to provide assistance to
    requesters using this Section of the Act as currently apply to
    requesters using Section 12 (formerly Section 7) of the Act. It was
    considered more appropriate for this provision to be integrated in
    the new legislation.
    Section 10covers the rights of a person to information regarding
    an act of an FOI body affecting that person. This provision is similar
    to Section 18 of the 1997 Act. It confers a legal right on each person

    to reasons for a decision on a matter particularly affecting that
    person. This Section is also updated to integrate provisions made by
    SI under the 1997 Act (S.I. No. 519 of 1998) which provided that
    similar arrangements should be made to provide assistance to
    requesters using this Section of the Act as currently apply to
    requesters using Section 12 (formerly Section 7) of the Act. It was
    considered more appropriate for this provision to be integrated in
    the new legislation.
    http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/b...8913d-memo.pdf
    The the repealing of the 1997 Freedom of information act (next week) affects you. With the REMOVAL of Three words in section 15 and 16 of the act 'INDEX OF PRECEDENTS', DECISION MAKING is to become OPAQUE.
    To clarify .At the moment eg if you are appealing a decision made by the HSE (medical card)/Dept of Social Protection/ Revenue/Housing etc each decision creates a precedent in law which all other appeals have to abide by. It creates transparency and consistency in the decision making process which you can access through FOI. All decisions made by these bodies can be brought to a court of law which follows the index of precedents. Without it's inclusion decisions become arbitry.

    Under the new repealed law 'index of precedents' is being removed which means that decision making becomes opaque, made arbitarily with no reference to previous decisions (think medical cards here). Eg re planning no reference to previous decisions need be proven leaving the door wide open for the brown envelope culture to flourish again.
    THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Also massive charges are being introduced to prevent journalists from being able to access info for their role as watch dogs.


    Just want to clarify a previous point here I don't think 'each decision' will necessarily create a precedent , a lot of them would be run of the mill decisions with no particular controversy, ie they just follow the internal law and rules of the particular organisation, but where a dispute or ambiguity arose they would be bound by precedent where such decision would have been previously made.

    n section 8 the wording 'index of precedents' is removed.

    Section 8deals with the publication of information about FOI
    bodies. This section replaces Sections 15 and 16 of the existing 1997
    Act which require that a public body must maintain manuals
    outlining its structures and functions, detailing the services it
    provides, indicating the types of records which it holds, decisions
    made, indexing precedents etc. Given developments since FOI was
    first introduced, these manuals are no longer considered ‘‘fit for
    purpose’’.
    All they have to say is that 'INDEX OF PRECEDENTS' is no longer fit for purpose. A very sly way of removing it.
    Last edited by Lassie; 13th November 2013 at 12:32 PM.
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  3. #3
    googolplex googolplex is offline

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    Stupid question, but can, and how does, one prevent this bill going through?
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  4. #4
    LamportsEdge LamportsEdge is offline
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    Another fraud in the Irish state which will be pointed out in due course by organisations which monitor the state of affairs across the EU and across the globe.

    The interesting thing is that Irish politicians, as all politicians do, have a penchant for attempting to disguise restrictions as 'freedoms'.

    They'll name bills in such a manner as to convey the impression of liberality and just lump restrictive practices into it. This does become exposed of course as measurements in this case by organisations and NGOs of country's commitments to the principles of FOI are published and we find criticisms of the ineffectiveness or the actual restrictions placed on the principles involved.

    Eventually we'll end up seeing newspaper stories such as 'Irish civil servants apparently mystified by computers' and so on.

    The Irish Company Law Acts are no more than corset loosening jobs for the Institute of Directors and IBEC and should be more properly described as 'Company Law Loosening Acts' .. The Ministerial office of Justice is actually 'Minister for Justice and Legal Reform' whereas actual reform is anathema to Justice Ministers in Ireland caught as they are between vested interests and such a nebulous concept of Justice in a corrupt state like Ireland.

    Perhaps the concept of deliberately naming bills to convey liberality but which act as an oppression will reach new heghts in Ireland with a Childrens Act restricted to apply to only over 18s, an Oireachtas Expenses Reform and Judicious Spending Act which will see a coal lorry of money upended in the courtyard of Leinster House and RTE broadcasting live the ensuing scramble for cash among TDs, and ultimately the Irish State Sulking Act which will make it illegal to point out that international organisations watching Ireland's kleptocracy and its increasingly desperate attempts to pretend it fosters a democratic Republic are reporting its corruption openly.
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  5. #5
    LamportsEdge LamportsEdge is offline
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    The funny thing is that Irish politicians get up on their rather small high horses whenever there is international criticisms and yet each year without fail they attempt some bill which is going to clearly end up bringing us into collision with the democratic principles we signed up to at the UN and via various other international treaties.

    I suspect it is something to do with a concept of 'street angel and house devil' like the pleasant chap down the road who greets everyone with a cheery wave and goes home to beat on his wife and family nightly.

    And is then outraged at the invasion of his 'privacy and good name' when the Gardai are called to the house by the neighbours who have noticed screams in the evening.

    A hail fellow well met- but behind closed doors there is something wrong with him.

    It is that Tir Na N'og thing again. As long as we keep the curtains washed with bills saying we are doing great things for freedom and democracy no one will be able to peer through the window and see the broken furniture and the wife with the black eye.

    Never works in the end of course. At the end of such attempts to disguise repression as democracy always lies some little politician theatrically offended that anyone should say Ireland is in any way corrupt and of course he will be the most corrupt of them all reaching for his outraged patriotism to distract from the crimes he supports.

    There'll be some little langer in a suit along in the media at some point to answer that FOI requests are 'holding up the business of gubberment' or some such codology which will contain the merest grain of truth in it- that the business of government is all too often corruption which FOI freedoms make difficult to conceal.

    We are already under criticism as a nation for being the only state in Europe which exempts its police force from FOI legislation.

    And here we have a new FOI Act which I'm safe enough in assuming does not even attend to that international oddity about Ireland and goes on to further restrict the principles of FOI legislation in a supposed democracy.
    Last edited by LamportsEdge; 3rd November 2013 at 08:19 AM.
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  6. #6
    Cato Cato is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by googolplex View Post
    Stupid question, but can, and how does, one prevent this bill going through?
    The only people who can are the occupants of the two Houses of the Oireachtas. Given the large majority the government has in the Dáil there is no chance of it being blocked.

    Theoretically one could resolve to vote in a different government next time but who to vote for from the current menu remains the somewhat dispiriting reality as none of the likely outcomes to a general election will produce a government committed to real reform.
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  7. #7
    LamportsEdge LamportsEdge is offline
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    There is the usual third party in Irish politics. We have Government, the Opposition and 'International Embarrassment' in due course.

    The 'International Embarrassment' Party in Irish politics is quite a potent actor and is responsible for the repeal of many a dingbat attempt at social control in Ireland.
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  8. #8
    Florence Florence is offline

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    Does the bill in any way address the current fees and charges. The initial fee €15 appears modest but you are often then charged a lot more depending on the request. i think they estimate the staff time required and charge at €20.95 ph or some similar rate. there may be a charge on top of that for each photocopy.

    If you need to appeal, then it gets expensive and the delays mount up. I'm currently waiting to hear about an FOI appeal I made regarding information I got from a national paper. I was told the information I want is personal and therefore cannot be released - yet actual figures and names were in this article. I want to confirm the facts in the article and to get the background to the payments as they may have have implications for a family member who is in dispute with a government body about his pension entitlement.
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  9. #9
    Earl Gray Earl Gray is offline

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    Bad news on the FOI Bill front from TheStory.ie.

    "We will be blunt: if passed, Freedom of Information is dead.

    TheStory.ie will, in all likelihood, cease all FOI requests. And we will not seek funding from the public to support an immoral, cynical, unjustified and probably illegal FOI fee regime. We will not pay for information that the public already pays for. We will not support a system that perpetuates an outrageous infringement of citizen rights. The legislation was gutted in 2003 and it is being gutted again. More generally the number of requests from journalists from all news organisations in Ireland will fall as a result of these amendments, and the resulting efforts to shine a light on the administration of the State will certainly deteriorate. And secrecy will prevail."

    Killing Freedom of Information in Ireland – The Story
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  10. #10
    DuineEile DuineEile is offline

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    Fine Gael's authoritarian streak rears its ugly head again. This stuff is starting to get serious. If we are not careful, we'll wake up in 1933.

    D
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