Freedom of Information
Laois Education Centre recognises the importance of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and to assist administrative compliance with the Act Laois Education Centre will endeavour to ensure that:
- The majority of information is made available through our website and publications
- Other information is readily available on request
- If the information requested is subject to an exemption, Laois Education Centre will implement the public interest test to determine whether the information can be released
Scope of the Policy
This policy is intended to cover all records created in Laois Education Centre, i.e., records which are also public records under the terms of the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967. This includes email messages and other electronic records. The policy outlines good practice and identifies the responsibilities of the Management and staff of Laois Education Centre in terms of Freedom of Information.
Responsibilities for Freedom of Information
Ultimate responsibility for Freedom of Information rests with the Management of Laois Education Centre but all staff members who record information, whether on paper or by electronic means, also have responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act and under this policy.
The IT section
The IT section are responsible for ensuring that publications are displayed on the Laois Education Centre website and that this is regularly reviewed to ensure it is up to date and that all-links continue to work
It is the responsibility of the staff to:
Respond to requests for information, either by supply of the information or referral of requests for exempted information are followed up.
The Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides that from 21st April 1998, every person has the following legal rights:
- To access information held by Laois Education Centre to which Freedom of Information legislation applies
- To have official information relating to himself/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
- To obtain reasons for decisions affecting himself/herself.
Laois Education Centre recognises the importance of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and to assist organisational compliance with the Act, Laois Education Centre will endeavour to ensure that all appropriate information will be made available to the requester having regard for confidentiality, privacy, discretion and the public interest.
It is the policy of Laois Education Centre to support the individual’s right to view any information held about them within its facility. Access to an individual’s own records should be provided administratively – subject to exemptions
Exemptions occur when:
Access to information cannot be provided to you directly under administrative access, you will be informed of this and advised of the option of making an application under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. Similarly, certain information maybe of such a sensitive nature that requests for access can only be dealt with under the Freedom of Information legislation.
Applying for Information
Any individual applying for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 may do so in writing to Laois Education Centre. The individual must provide sufficient information to assist in locating their records, including; date of birth, current and previous addresses, any contacts they had with specific services and approximate dates.
Laois Education Centre will need to verify by appropriate means the identity of an individual, therefore the individual may be asked for proof of identity, for example providing a copy of current passport or driver’s license (or other suitable identification). This is necessary so as to protect confidentiality. There will generally be no charge for copies of personal records. However, Laois Education Centre have the right to charge, if the quantity of records are very large, for photocopying. (See scale of charges below).
Two types of charges apply –
“Up-front” fees that must accompany a request for a non-personal record under section 7 (or a subsequent application for review)
Fees/deposits in relation to search and retrieval and reproduction costs of records releasedto a requester. Full details of all Freedom of Information charges are contained in CPU Notice 11, a copy of which is available on the Freedom of Information website at www.Freedom of Information.gov.ie. A summary of Freedom of Information fees is set out below.
|Type of Request/Application||Standard Fee*||Reduced Fee * **|
Request for a non-personal record
Review by Information Commissioner
Request for a personal record
Application under section 17 for amendment of a record containing incorrect, incomplete or misleading personal information
Application under section 18 for the reasons for a decision affecting the individual
* Fee will not apply where a person appeals a decision to charge a fee or deposit, or a fee or deposit of a particular amount.
** Reduced fee will apply in respect of persons covered by a medical card and third parties who appeal a decision of a public body to release their information on public interest grounds
Fees for search and retrieval and copying of records released
Search and retrieval: €20.95 per hour*
Copying charges **
Photocopy per sheet: €0.04
Floppy disk: €0.51
CD Rom: €10.16
Disregarded if only personal information is contained in the record except where the grant of the request relates to a significant amount of records.
** Disregarded if only personal information is contained in recorded and it would not be reasonable, having regard to the means of the requester, to apply a charge.
Laois Education Centre will undertake to make available to the public up to date details of the policies and procedures under which it operates. This information will be published on our website and may also be made available to individuals on request. A requester may seek access to non-personal information and Laois Education Centre will process this request under this policy. An individual must apply in writing to the Administrative Office, Laois Education Centre, Block Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois
Other Procedures for Access to Records
Records and Information are the property of the organisation at which they are held, i.e. Laois Education Centre. All records and information are kept under strict security and apart from the circumstances above, may only be removed from Laois Education Centre under the following conditions: –
- Upon a Court Subpoena;
- Search Warrant;
- Court Orders;
- Police Investigations;
- Request and/or Investigation by the Information Commissioner or Ombudsman;
- By an Officer authorised in writing by the Minister.
Current statutory provisions in Education/Health legislation may apply to disclosure of information. Therefore, the release of such records/information will be made on the grounds of public interest and on the basis of upholding, enforcing and/or administering the law.
Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act provides that from 21 April, 1998, every person has the following new legal rights:
- the right to access official records held by Government Departments or other public bodies listed in 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.
These rights mean that from 21 April, 1998, people can seek access to personal information held on them - no matter when the information was created - and to other records created after 21 April, 1998.
Entitlements under the Freedom of Information Act.
- Receipt of your request must be acknowledged within 10 working days;
- A response will, in normal circumstances, be issued within 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. 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.
Records to be accessed under Freedom of Information
Under the Act, the following records are accessible:
- all records created after the Act commenced 21st April, 1998;
- all personal records of clients, whenever created;
- all records of staff created after 21 April, 1995, or earlier if used adversely against staff member; and
- all records created earlier if needed to understand records created after that date.
An individual may make a request for access to records. This request must be in writing stating that the request is made under the Freedom of Information 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 four weeks. 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 Laois Education Centre 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
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 must state clearly the exact records/information being requested and supply as much detail (i.e. school/centre/office location, dates in attendance etc.) as possible;
- The request should state clearly the manner in which access is sought, for example, to view the original in Laois Education Centre 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;
- Laois Education Centre will accept requests by letter, fax, email, web mail.
Freedom of Information requests can be sent by post to
Laois Education Centre, Block Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois.
Details of Freedom of Information Process and Rights to Appeal:
- An acknowledgement will be sent within 10 working days, of receipt of a valid request;
- Laois Education Centre 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 (http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/) within six months from date of the internal reviewer’s decision, where an independent review of the matter will be carried out.
Incorrect Information - Amendments of Records
Section 9 of The Freedom of Information 2014 states “ (1) Where personal information in a record held by an Freedom of Information body is incomplete, incorrect or misleading, the head of the body shall, on application to him or her in that behalf, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, by the individual to whom the information relates, amend the record— (a) by altering it so as to make the information complete or correct or not misleading, as may be appropriate, (b) by adding to the record a statement specifying the respects in which the body is satisfied that the information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading, as may be appropriate, or (c) by deleting the information from it. (2) An application under subsection (1) shall, in so far as is practicable— (a) specify the record concerned and the amendment required, and (b) include