Freedom of Information

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Freedom of Information

The FOI Act 2014 provides that from the effective date, every person has the following legal rights:

  • the right to access official records held by Government Departments and all public bodies that conform to the provisions of Section 6 of the Act;
  • the right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
  • the right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them.

Regulations provide that parents, guardians and next-of-kin may apply to exercise these rights in certain circumstances.

The FOI Act gives legal rights to obtain access to records held by public bodies. There is generally no time limit in the case of personal information about the requester. In other cases the right of access is to records created after the commencement of the initial FOI Act in April 1998.

The Act requires public bodies to respond to requests from the public for information they hold. In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a request within 4 weeks of receiving it. A week is defined in the Act to mean 5 consecutive week-days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. There are some limited situations under the FOI Act, which could mean that the making of a decision could take longer than four weeks. If this occurs, you will be notified in writing. For instance, if consultations with third parties are necessary in order to complete the request, there may be a further three weeks before a response is issued. If you have not received a reply within four weeks, you are automatically entitled to consider that Bord Bia has refused to grant your request and you may immediately appeal to Bord Bia for a review on the matter.

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests

FOI requests should be made in writing to the FOI Officer in Bord Bia. The FOI Officer will assist people with special needs in making a request under the Act. Requests should be as clear and as specific as possible and provide as much information as possible to enable Bord Bia to identify the records that you require. Your request should include the following:

  • A statement that the request is being made under the FOI Act;
  • As much information as possible about the records being sought;
  • In what format you wish to receive any records released (e.g. photocopies)

Please provide full contact details – name, address, phone number and email address. Be prepared to provide identification and, if your request relates to personal information, relevant evidence/justification as appropriate. Requests should be as clear and specific as possible to enable Bord Bia to identify the records that you require. If you would like to receive access to the information/records in a particular format, (e.g. photocopies, electronically, etc.), please mention this when submitting your request

A personal request is for records that contain your personal data. Personal data means data which relates to an individual who can be identified from that data. When you are seeking information which is personal, you will be required to supply appropriate identification.

A non-personal request is for records that contain someone else’s personal data or no personal data, for example, records in relation to Bord Bia policy, schemes, administration, records, etc.

Information will, in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act, be granted ‘to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy’. Disclosures of information in records will be the norm and this norm will be departed from only when clearly necessary.

If you have a difficulty in identifying the precise records which you require, the FOI Officer of Bord Bia will be happy to assist you in preparing your request. The FOI Officer can be contacted at:

Freedom of Information Officer
Bord Bia
Clanwilliam Court
Lower Mount Street
Dublin 2.
Email: info@bordbia.ie

Records

The following records come within the scope of the FOI Acts:

  • all records relating to personal information held by Bord Bia irrespective of when they were created
  • all other records created from the commencement of the FOI Act (21 April 1998)
  • any records necessary to the understanding of a current record even if created prior to 21 April 1998
  • personnel records of serving staff created from 21st April, 1995 and those created prior to that date where being used or proposed to be used in a way which adversely affects or may affect the person involved.

However, in order to allow Bord Bia business to be properly conducted, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information in some circumstances. These are set out in the Act. Among the key exemptions are records relating to:

  • Government meetings,
  • law enforcement and security,
  • confidential and commercially sensitive information,
  • personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request).

Requests may also be refused if they are deemed too voluminous or unclear but Bord Bia is obliged to assist the requester in trying to overcome this.

List of Fees

  • There is no charge for submitting a request.
  • Search and Retrieval – €20 per hour (for requests that exceed the €100 minimum in terms of search, retrieval and copying), see table below.
  • €0.04 per sheet for a photocopy.
  • Internal review fee €30 (€10 for medical card holders).
  • Appeal to the Information Commissioner €50 (€15 for medical card holders).

Bands for estimating search & retrieval (€20 per hour) and photocopying fees (€0.04 per sheet):

Hours

Estimate

Action

Less than 5 €100 or less No fees can be charged for search & retrieval or copying
Between 5 and 25 €101 - €500 Search & retrieval and copying fees apply
Between 25 and 35 €501 - €700 No more than €500 can be charged for search & retrieval or copying
More than 35 More than €700 The decision maker will contact the requester to ask him/her to refine/amend the request to ensure that the search & retrieval & coping charges are below €700. If the requester refuses to refine/amend the request then the request can be refused under Section 27 (12)(iii).

Notes:
1. There is no charge if the records concerned contain only personal information relating to the applicant, unless there are a significant number of records.
2. If you are claiming a reduced application fee, the request must be accompanied by the Medical Card registration number, issuing Health Board name and your consent to the verification of these details with that Health Board.
3. A full list of fees is available on request.

Appeals

You may appeal any decision issued by Bord Bia by writing to the Freedom of Information Unit in Bord Bia seeking an Internal Review of the matter. A fee of €30 (€10 for medical card holders) may apply for such an appeal. There is no fee for internal review applications concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.

You should make your appeal within 4 weeks from the date of response (although late appeals may be permitted in certain circumstances).The appeal will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by a more senior member of staff of Bord Bia and a decision will be communicated to you within 3 weeks.

If you are unhappy with the decision of the Internal Review by Bord Bia you may appeal the decision within six months by writing to the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you make an appeal, the Information Commissioner will fully investigate and consider the matter and issue a fresh decision. All appeals should be addressed to:

The Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Dublin 2.
Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689
Locall: 1890 253238
Fax: +353 (1) 639 5674
E-mail: info@oic.gov.ie

A fee of €50 (€15 for medical card holders) may apply for such an application. Again, there is no fee for appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.

Further information on FOI is also available from www.foi.gov.ie and www.oic.gov.ie

Data Protection

The requirements of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 also apply to Bord Bia. The Data Protection Acts protect the privacy of individuals whose personal data is being processed. Personal data is information relating to a living individual who can be identified from the data itself or in conjunction with other information held.

 

Bord Bia - FOI Application Form

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