29/02/2008

Labour Party Seeks Scraping Of FOI Charges

The Labour Party has called on the government to end fee charging for Freedom of Information requests in Ireland.

Joan Burton, Deputy Leader of the Labour Part says the fee structure introduced in 2003 needs to be scraped and has called the charges a “cynical ploy” by the government to discourage people from using the facility.

Addressing a seminar on 'Democracy and the Right to Know', organised by the Department of Politics and Public Administration in the University of Limerick, Ms Burton further accused the government of disembowelling the original Freedom of Information Act and has pledged the Labour Party to seeking to restore the Act to its original purpose.

The Freedom of Information Act was first introduced while Labour was last in government in 1997. However, in 2003 Fianna Fail amended the Act introducing charges, claiming the policy was costing the public sector too much.

Freedom of information act requests remain predominantly free in the UK.

Ms Burton said: “The fee structure introduced by Fianna Fáil and the PDs in the 2003 Act, ranging from €15-€150 is prohibitive, and does not exist in any other country with FOI legislation similar to Ireland's.

“There has been a marked decline in the number of queries made by members of the public since these fees were introduced. This may be in the interests of Fianna Fáil, but it is certainly not in the national interest.”

(DW)


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