Freedom of information

 

Sir, – Responding to Mr Laurence Vize’s plea (July 10th), I am glad to advise that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin is proposing in his amendments to the Freedom of Information Bill 2013 to confirm that the information that public bodies are currently required to include in their “Section 15” and “Section 16” FOI manuals will now be provided for in the publication schemes required under the FOI Bill.

Publication schemes for FOI are a further example of the adoption of best practice in FOI from abroad in Ireland’s FOI regime.

They will help ensure that public bodies publish more information on a proactive basis outside of FOI than has ever been the case in the past.

The legislative provision will ensure that there is no potential for a diminution of the information that public bodies are currently required to make available in the public domain.

There is no question of public bodies deciding for themselves what should be included in their publication scheme.

These must be made in accordance with a model publication scheme made by the Minister following consultation with the Information Commissioner.

The code of practice for FOI is another important innovation in the FOI Bill, whose development has benefited from the pre-legislative scrutiny of the FOI Bill by legislators and also from the important report on the operation of FOI in Ireland prepared by a group of FOI experts, academics and advocates external to the public service. A draft of the code has been published for public consultation on the department’s website. – Yours, etc,

ÁINE GRIFFIN,

Press Officer,

Department of Public

Expenditure and Reform,

Government Buildings,

Dublin 2.