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Freedom of Information

Description

This website is maintained by the ESF Policy and Operations Section of the Department of Education and Skills, Ireland. The Department's Freedom of Information page contains the Section 15 and 16 reference material.

The Freedom of Information Act 2014, effective from 14 October 2014, provides the following statutory rights:

  • a right for each person to access information held by public bodies;
  • a right for each person to have official information relating to him/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
  • a right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting him/herself.

The Act distinguishes between personal and non-personal information. You can access your personal information regardless of when it was created if it is still in existence. You can only access non-personal information which has been created after the 21st April 1998. The Act asserts the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.

How to Apply

You should make your request in writing to:

The Freedom of Information Unit

Department of Education and Skills

Marlborough Street

Dublin 1

D01 RC96

or by e-mail to: foi@education.gov.ie

When making your request, you should state that you are making your request under the FOI Act. You should also be as specific as possible to enable the information to be identified easily and, if possible, indicate the time-frame which applies to your request e.g. between May 2013-December 2013.  Also, if possible, try to specify the areas of the European Social Fund which you feel would be most relevant to your request.

The Department’s Section 15 and 16 Reference books, as required by the previous FOI Acts, provides information in relation to the structure of the Department, its records and its decision making which may help you to identify relevant areas and are available at the following links Section 15 Manual / Section 16 Manual.

If you wish you can use the Department's standard FOI Application Form to make your request.

If you have a specific question on making an FOI request, please visit the Department’s Freedom of Information Frequently Asked Questions FAQs.

For more comprehensive information on Freedom of Information including the text of the FOI Acts, please visit the FOI Central Policy Unit website at www.foi.gov.ie.

Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)

This section provides general information on the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations. It includes background information on the legislation, how to make an AIE application, contact details and fees.

European Communities (AIE) Regulations 2007 to 2011 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007 and S.I. No. 662 of 2011) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations), give legal rights to those seeking to access information on the environment from public authorities.

Under these regulations, information relating to the environment held by, or for, a public authority must be made available on request, subject to certain exceptions.

The AIE Regulations provide a definition of environmental information; outlines the manner in which requests for information may be submitted to public authorities and the manner in which public authorities are required to deal with requests.

How to make an AIE application

When making a request for information under the AIE Regulations, you are required to:

  • state that the application is being made under the AIE Regulations and submit it in writing or electronic form;
  • provide your contact details;
  • state, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental information required, and
  • if you require the information in a specific format or manner of access, you should specify this in your request.   

How to Apply

You should make your request for information under the AIE Regulations in writing to:

The Freedom of Information Unit

Department of Education and Skills

Marlborough Street

D01 RC96

or by e-mail to: foi@education.gov.ie

Fees

There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations.  However, the Department may charge a reasonable fee for supplying the information requested.   This may include the costs of compiling, copying, printing or posting of information. There is no charge for applying for an internal review.

An appeal to the Commissioner for Environment Information is €50 or €15 if the applicant is the holder or dependent of a holder of a medical card, or a third party appealing the decision to release certain information.   

Requirements for dealing with requests

In general, the Department is required to respond to an AIE request within one month of receipt of the request.  Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, the Department is unable to respond within the one month timeframe, we will write to the applicant within the month, indicating when a response will issue.  This date should not be more than two months from the receipt of the original request.

If the Department does not have the information requested; it can either transfer the request to another public authority or advise the applicant of where it believes the request should be directed.  In either case, it is required to notify the applicant.

Appealing a decision

Under Article 11 of the AIE Regulations you have a right to seek an internal review of the initial decision.  You may also request an internal review if you have not received a response within the appropriate timeframe.  An internal review must be requested within one month of receipt of the original decision (the public authority may extend this timeframe but is not required to do so).  There is no charge for requesting an internal review. 

An internal review involves a complete reconsideration of the matter by a member of the staff of the public authority, who may affirm, vary or annul the original decision made.  A written outcome of the review informing you of the decision, the reason for the decision and advising you of your right of appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, including the time limits and fees associated with such an appeal, will be issued to you within one month of the date of receipt of the request for the review. 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI).  You must appeal within one month of receiving the decision on the internal review from the public authority.  However, the Commissioner may extend this time limit in individual cases.  Contact details for the CEI can be found at www.ocei.gov.ie.

See Also