The Freedom of Information Act 1997 (FOI) as amended by the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 obliged government departments, the Health Service Executive (HSE), local authorities and a range of other public bodies to publish information on their activities and to make the information they held, including personal information, available to citizens.
On 14 October 2014, the Freedom of Information Act came into effect and amended the 1997 and 2003 Acts. The new Act introduced a number of changes to the Freedom of Information scheme and widened the range of bodies to which the FOI legislation applies to all public bodies, unless specifically exempt. It also allows for the Government to prescribe (or designate) other bodies receiving significant public funds, so that the FOI legislation applies to them also.
For any FOI request made before the new legislation came into effect, the old legislation continues to apply. It also applies to any subsequent review or appeal.
Under Irish Freedom of Information legislation every person has the following legal rights:
- The right to access official records held by public bodies prescribed under 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.