By Gavin Sheridan
As we expected, the Government has reacted to today’s media coverage of FOI and gone on the offensive. Yesterday included an embarrassing incident between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and internationally recognised experts on the rights to freedom of expression and access to information, ARTICLE 19.
Morning Ireland discussed it this morning (listen here), but suffice to say, ARTICLE 19 are strong opponents of the current and planned fee regime – “a violation of international law” doesn’t get much stronger.
To our amazement the Department had cited Article 19 as a source to justify fees.
The money quote:
“ARTICLE 19 understands that the Government of Ireland has issued a press release justifying the expansion of stringent fees on Freedom of Information Act requests by referring to the ARTICLE 19 Model Freedom of Information Law, developed in 1999. This justification represents a fundamental misunderstanding of both the Model Law and international law.
ARTICLE 19 strongly opposes the current Irish policy allowing for imposition of fees for making requests as well as the pending bill before the Dail to expand fees by allowing requests to be split and charged for each facet. We believe that it violates international law by placing unreasonable restrictions on the right of all persons to access information held by government bodies…………..