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FOI Act Sections 15 & 16 Reference Book Part 1 - Access to Information

Routinely Available Information

The National College of Ireland will continue to routinely make available without use of FOI legislation, information pertaining to its functions, activities and schemes.

The Freedom of Information Act is designed to allow public access to information held by designated bodies, which is not routinely available through other sources.

Access to information under the Act is subject to certain exemptions and involves specific procedures and time limits pertaining to the accessing of information under the FOI Act.

This manual provides a guide to the structure of the National College of Ireland, so as to help you access information under the FOI Act.

Applications under the FOI Act

Under the FOI Act, anyone is entitled to apply for access to information not otherwise publicly available. Each person has a right to:

  • Access to records held by us not covered by one of the exemptions in the Act.
  • Correction of personal information relating to oneself held by us where it is inaccurate, incomplete or misleading.
  • Access to reasons for decisions made by us directly affecting oneself.

The following records come within the scope of the Act:

  • All records relating to personal information held by us irrespective of when created.
  • All other records created from commencement date of the Act i.e. 21st April 1998.
  • Any other records necessary to the understanding of a current record.
  • Personnel records of serving staff created from 21st April 1995 and those created prior to that date where they are being used or proposed to be used in a way which adversely affects or may affect the person involved.

We will normally be obliged to respond to a request within 4 weeks. A week is defined in the Act to mean 5 consecutive weekdays, excluding Saturdays and public holidays (Sundays are also excluded, as they are not week days).

Applications under the FOI Act should be addressed to:

The Freedom of Information Officer
National College of Ireland
Mayor St
IFSC
Dublin 1
Ph +353 (0)1 4498632

Email foi@ncirl.ie  

Compiling your application

  • i.Your application should be in writing and, if applicable, accompanied by the appropriate fee (see "fees" below). The relevant fee should be paid by bank draft, money order or cheques drawn on a Bank in the Republic of Ireland, made payable to The National College of Ireland Ltd
  • You may use the form entitled ‘Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Acts’ which is widely available or the version of this form (see Appendix 1). This form is also available on the College website www.ncirl.ie .
  • If you are not using the form outlined above, then your application should indicate that the information is sought under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • ii.If you require a reply in a particular format i.e. photocopy, computer disk, etc. please mention this in your application.
  • iii.Please be as detailed and as specific as possible when compiling your application as this will assist us in dealing with it. It can also result in lesser charges being incurred on search and retrieval in cases where these fall to be paid. Where possible please try to indicate the time period for which you wish to access records e.g. records created between May 2003 and December 2003. If you have any difficulty in preparing your application our FOI Officer will be will be happy to assist you in this regard.
  • iv.You may be required to prove your identity, especially when seeking personal information, so you may, therefore, be asked to produce your Birth Certificate, Driving License, Passport or other form of identity.
  • v.Please include a daytime telephone number, if possible, so that you may be contacted quickly if it is necessary to clarify details of your request.

We are happy to provide assistance to members of the public who seek advice on making a request.

Assistance to Persons with a disability

We are available to provide assistance to persons with a disability to exercise their rights under the FOI Act (e.g. accepting oral requests from requesters who are unable to read, print and/or write due to their disability, enabling the requester to inspect or have records explained to him or her).

FOI Decision Making in the National College of Ireland

We acknowledge receipt of all written FOI applications not later than 2 weeks following their receipt, and forward them to the FOI Decision Maker for decision. The Decision Maker proceeds to deal with the request, liaise with the requester as appropriate, and make a decision on the matter.

The Decision maker will respond to all written requests within 4 weeks of the date of receipt of the written request.

Applications for information or for assistance in making an application, should be addressed to

The FOI Officer
National College of Ireland
Mayor St, IFSC, Dublin 1
Ph +353 (0)1 4498632
Email foi@ncirl.ie

Right of Review and Appeal

The Act sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage key interests of the State or of third parties. Where a Public Body invokes these provisions to withhold information, the decision may be appealed. Decisions in relation to deferral of access, charges, forms of access, etc. may also be the subject of appeal. Details of the appeals mechanisms are as follows:

 

Internal Review

You may seek internal review of the initial decision which will be carried out by an FOI internal review committee consisting of 3 senior executives of the College, and chaired by the Registrar.

  • a.You are dissatisfied with the initial response received i.e. refusal of information, form of access, charges, etc., or
  • b.You have not received a reply within 4 weeks of your initial application. This is deemed to be a refusal of your request and allows you to proceed to internal review.

Requests for internal review should be submitted in writing and, if applicable, accompanied by the appropriate fee, (see under Fees) to: 

The FOI Office
The National College of Ireland
Mayor St, IFSC, Dublin 1

The relevant fee should be paid by bank draft, money order or cheques drawn on a Bank in the Republic of Ireland, made payable to The National College of Ireland Ltd

Such a request for internal review must be submitted within 4 weeks of the initial decision. We must complete the review within 3 weeks. Internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Office of the Information Commissioner.

 

Review by the Information Commissioner

Following completion of internal review, you may seek independent review of the decision from the Information Commissioner. Also if you have not received a reply to your application for internal review within 3 weeks, this is deemed to be a refusal and you may appeal the matter to the Information Commissioner.

Appeals in writing, and, if applicable, accompanied by the appropriate fee, (see under Fees below) may be made directly to the Information Commissioner at the following address:

Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-6395689
Fax: 01-6395676

E-mail: info@oic.ie

Website: www.oic.ie 

Fees

A range of fees are currently set out under Statutory Instruments. 

Application fees

A standard application fee of €15 must accompany an FOI request made under section 7 of the Act for a record or records containing non-personal information.

A reduced fee of €10 applies if the person making such a request is covered by a medical card.

The following requests/applications are exempt from application fees: 

  • a.A request under section 7 for a record or records containing only personal information related to the requester.
  • b.An application under section 17 (right of amendment of records relating to personal information).
  • c.An application under section 18 (right of person to information regarding acts of pubic bodies affecting the person).

Internal review fees

A standard application fee of €75 must accompany an application for internal review under section 14 of the Act.

A reduced fee of €25 applies if the person bringing the application is a medical card holder or a dependant of a medical card holder.

The following internal review applications are exempt:

  • a.An application in relation to a decision concerning records containing only personal information related to the applicant.
  • b.An application in relation to a decision under section 17 (right of amendment of records relating to personal information).
  • c.An application in relation to a decision under section 18 (right of person to information regarding acts of pubic bodies affecting the person).
  • d.An application in relation to a decision to charge a fee or deposit, or a fee or deposit of a particular amount.
  • e.An appeal of a decision which is deemed to be refused because the original request was not replied to within the required time limits.

 

Review by Information Commissioner

A standard application fee of €150 must accompany applications to the Information Commissioner for review of decisions made by public bodies under section 34 of the Act. 

A reduced fee of €50 applies if

  • a.the person bringing the application is a medical card holder or a dependant of a medical card holder or
  • b.the person is specified in section 29(2) i.e. a third party with the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner where a public body decides to release their information on public interest grounds.

The following applications to the Information Commissioner do not require an application fee:

  • a.An application concerning records containing only personal information related to the applicant.
  • b.An application in relation a decision under section 17 (right of amendment of records relating to personal information).
  • c.An application in relation to a decision under section 18 (right of person to information regarding acts of pubic bodies affecting the person).
  • d.An application in relation to a decision to charge a fee or deposit exceeding €25.00 under section 47 in respect of search and retrieval and photocopying of records (decisions in relation to the charging of fees or deposits for search and retrieval and/or photocopying of less than €25 are not subject to review by the Information Commissioner).
  • e.An application in relation to a decision to charge a fee under section 47(6A), or a fee of a particular amount under section 47(6A), on the grounds that the records concerned do not contain only personal information related to the requester or the requester is not a medical card holder or a dependant of a medical card holder.
  • f.An appeal of an internal review decision which is deemed to be refused because that decision was not made within the required time limits.

Search and Retrieval and photocopying fees

Fees may also be charged for search and retrieval of records as follows:
In respect of personal records, fees in respect of the cost of copying the records requested will apply.
In respect of other (non-personal) information, fees may be charged in respect of the time spent in efficiently locating and copying records, based on a standard hourly rate of €20.95. No charges shall apply in respect of the time spent by public bodies in considering requests.

A deposit may be payable where the total fee is likely to exceed €50.79. In these circumstances, we will, if requested, assist the member of the public to amend the request so as to reduce or eliminate the amount of the deposit.

Charges may be waived in the following circumstances:
where the cost of collecting and accounting for the fee would exceed the amount of the fee; or
where the information would be of particular assistance to the understanding of an issue of national importance; or
in the case of personal information, where such charges would not be reasonable having regard to the means of the requester.

Section 47 of the FOI Act sets out the rules for applying search and retrieval fees. Fees are currently set as follows in accordance with Statutory Instruments Nos. 264 of 2003, 139 of 1998 and 13 of 1997:

  • €20.95 per hour - search and retrieval
  • €0.04 per sheet for a photocopy
  • €0.51 for a 3½ inch computer diskette
  • €10.16 for a CD-ROM
  • €6.35 for a Radiograph (X-Ray)
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