Freedom of Information Act 2014
Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board are now included under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, as and from Tuesday 14th April, 2015.
For further information please click on the links below:
Entitlements under the FOI Acts:
- Receipt of your request must be acknowledged no later than 10 working days.
- A response will, in normal circumstances, be issued no later than 20 working days of receipt of a valid request.
- All decisions must be clearly explained, setting out the sections of the Act used in reaching these decisions;
- Details of your entitlements to Internal Review and appeal will be included in the decision letter.
The Freedom of Information Act was introduced to:
- Increase openness;
- Improve accountability;
- Increase public appreciation of issues involved in policy decisions;
- Give stronger public ownership and acceptance of decisions made;
- Permit people access to their records and allow them to amend records if incorrect
The Act sets out three new legal rights:
- A legal right for each person to access information of a personal or non-personal nature held by public bodies;
- A legal right to have official information relating to him/her amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
- A legal right to seek reasons for decisions that affect him/her;
These rights extend to an individual’s own records and in specific circumstances, to those of their children and deceased relatives. In cases where access to records relating to a deceased person under section 37(8) is sought, there is a requirement to provide additional details to exercise these rights.
There are exemptions provided for in the Acts, this means that there are specific circumstances when the requested information will not be released, e.g., to protect confidentiality. If any of these exemptions are used to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained.
What is a record?
Document created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. A record includes a book or other written or printed material which is in any form including in any electronic device. It is a map, plan or drawing, a disc, tape or film which contains visual or non-visual images or a copy of any of these.
What Records can be accessed under FOI from WWETB?
- All records created on and after the 14th April 2015;
- All personal records, whenever created that are still in the position of the WWETB;
- All non –personal records created backdated to 21st April 2008;
- Earlier non-personal records (where they exist) if needed to understand later records which are accessed.
An individual may make a request for access to records. This request must be in writing stating that the request is made under the FOI Act and containing sufficient particulars in relation to the information concerned to enable the record to be identified.
A member of the public has the right to request information regarding acts of public bodies affecting them. A Freedom of Information request is a formal procedure, and the public body is required to respond within 20 working days from the date of receipt of a valid request. The request will be considered in accordance with the Act having regard to the exemptions provided for which include:
- Personal Information (other than information relating to the person making the request);
- Information supplied to the WWETB in confidence;
- Law enforcement and public safety;
- Commercially sensitive information;
- Deliberations of public bodies;
- Functions and negotiations of public bodies.
Making a Request under the Freedom of Information Act
How do I make a valid FOI request?
- A request must be made in writing;
- The request must state that it is being made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2014;
- The request must be signed and dated;
- The request should clearly identify the records being requested and supply as much detail (e.g., school/centre/office location, relevant dates, type of record(s) sought etc.) as possible in order to identify these record(s);
- The request should state clearly the manner in which access is sought, for example, to view the original in a WWETB location or to receive photocopies of the original, hear / view audio-visual record, obtain a copy of a computer disk or other electronic device etc.;
- Supply proof of identity as relevant to the information sought;
- Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board will accept requests by letter, email, web mail.
Send the FOI request to:
Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board
Ardcavan Business Park
Details of FOI Process and Rights to Appeal:
- An acknowledgement will be sent within 10 working days, of receipt of a valid request;
- The WWETB will issue a decision to the requester within 20 working days upon receipt of a valid request;
- Notification will be sent, if an extension is necessary to facilitate the completion of the request;
- If an individual is dissatisfied with the decision made they may send an appeal in writing to the Internal Reviewer, named in the Decision Letter within four weeks of the original decision. This review is independent of the initial Decision Maker’s decision;
- A complete decision on the appeal will be sent to the requester within 15 working days of receipt of appeal;
- If dissatisfied with the Internal Reviewer’s decision the requester may appeal directly to the Information Commissioner (https://www.oic.ie/ ) within six months from date of the internal reviewer’s decision, where an independent review of the matter will be carried out.
The WWETB Liaison Officer for the Office of the Information Commissioner:
Mr. Fintan O’Reilly,
Head of Corporate Services
Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board
Ardcavan Business Park
Fees relating to FOI requests:
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides for a completely new FOI fees regime. The following is a summary of the new fee structure in respect of non-personal requests: –
- There is a minimum threshold of €101 below which no search, retrieval and copying fees can be charged. Once the charge reaches €101, full fees apply;
- There is a cap on the amount of search, retrieval and copying fees that can be charged of €500;
- There is a further upper limit on estimated search, retrieval and copying fees at €700.00 above which an FOI body can refuse to process a request, unless the requester is prepared to refine the request to bring the search, retrieval and copying fees below the limit;
- The fee for internal review under Section 21 is now €30.00 (€10.00 for medical card holders and their dependants);
- The fee for appeals to the Information Commissioner under Section 22 is now €50.00 (€15.00 for medical card holders and their dependants).
The main functions of the Information Commissioner can be summarised as: –
- The review (on application) of the decisions of the public bodies in relation to FOI requests and where necessary, the making of binding, new decisions;
- The review of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 to ensure that public bodies comply with their provisions;
- The fostering an attitude of openness among public bodies by the encouragement of the voluntary publication of information above and beyond the minimum requirements of the Acts;
- The preparation and publication of commentaries on the practical operation of the Acts; and
- The publication of an Annual Report.
For further information, please visit https://foi.gov.ie/faqs/