Independent TD Catherine Murphy, top, and Tánaiste Joan Burton in Dáil this morning
This morning, during Order of Business in the Dáil, Kildare North Independent TD Catherine Murphy told Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton that she is experiencing major delays in receiving replys to Freedom of Information requests that she has sent to the Department of Finance.
She also said she received one FOI response two weeks after a newspaper obtained the exact same FOI response – even though they were due to receive them at the same time.
Catherine Murphy: “The programme for Government included a commitment to introduce new Freedom of Information legislation, which it did, and my understanding is that it also, it also allows for a review of that legislation. Tánaiste, I have put in Freedom of Information requests into the Department of Finance and I’ve got to say that I’m really unhappy with the way the legislation is playing out.”
“I was due to have responses about the same time as responses to the same questions were given to a journalist. Two weeks later, I got them, the exact same pieces of Freedom of Information. I’ve other material that I’m waiting, that’s overdue by weeks. I’ve gone through the appropriate channels, making the complaints and they’re not being provided to me. I’m not being given an explanation. And I’ve got to say it’s completely unsatisfactory.”
“Will you consider strengthening the legislation, if it’s found not to be working and if there is evidence that this is not working, at an earlier date, will you bring in a review before the term of this government is concluded, thank you.”
Joan Burton: “Well, we’ve just very significantly strengthened and expanded and restored the remit of the Freedom of Information Act and, certainly, I’m not aware of the details of what you’re complaining about – I will certainly refer that to the Minister for Finance for comment and reply to you. But what I think is also important and what this government has, as a policy, is to have a more open information society whereby, rather than having people request information, solely through the Freedom of Information Act, that as much information as possible is actually published. I don’t know about the specific incident you’re referring to, Deputy. So, as I say, I’ll refer it to the Minister for Finance for further comment and reply to you.”