Tag Archives: FOI

Journalist Ken Foxe, former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic

Journalist, Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer and Right To Know director Ken Foxe previously unearthed, via requests under the Freedom of Information Act, correspondence between Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, and the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and/or her officials, during Ms Fitzgerald’s time as minister.

Mr Foxe sought the correspondence between Ms Prone and Ms Fitzgerald between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

During this period of time, Ms Prone was also advising the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Mr Foxe had initially been told there were no such records.

After appealing the matter to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the OIC discovered there were 68 such records.

The Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall subsequently asked the Department of Justice to ask Ms Fitzgerald to check her personal email accounts for any other records.

The Department of Justice later informed Mr Foxe there were more than 190 such records.

Further to this…

On Sunday, Mr Foxe released further documents obtained under FOI which show that the Department of Justice was considering going to the High Court – over the request to ask Ms Ftizgerald to check her private email for correspondence with Ms Prone.

They also show that Ms Fitzgerald said some of the records found in her personal email related to internal Fine Gael business and were “confidential and commercially sensitive”.

And they show how the current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan was kept up to date on the developments regarding Mr Foxe’s FOI request.

And how the Department of Justice planned on issuing a profuse and thorough apology to Mr Foxe but, in the end, sent him  a much watered-down version.

Previously: Clinical Exposure

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane

This afternoon.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane introduced a bill in the Dáil to extend Freedom of Information law to include the Office of the President.

He said:

“There’s absolutely, in my view, no impediment to the Office of the President and all of the spending that goes with that, being subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“I don’t know why Minister [Brendan] Howlin exempted the president’s office at that time. Maybe it was advice from the Attorney General or not, I don’t know. But I believe it was wrong and I simply believe it should be corrected and here’s an opportunity to correct it.

“I’m appealing to parties across all, across this House, all parties to support this Bill. We believe it’s important. It has been an issue in terms of public scrutiny that people believe it should be subject to FOI in my view. I believe it’s the right thing to do.

“And as I said, I’m appealing for support for the Bill and I formally move the Bill at first stage.”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

Earlier: How Was It For You?

Pic: Richie McCann via President.ie

Former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic

Last night.

Journalist, director with Right To Know and Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer Ken Foxe tweeted that he had received word back from the Department of Justice yesterday.

This follows his attempts to obtain records of correspondence between the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and PR advisor Terry Prone between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017 – a time when Ms Prone was also advising the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Mr Foxe had initially been told there were no such records.

After appealing the matter to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the OIC discovered 68 such records of correspondence.

Last night, Mr Foxe said the Department of Justice informed him there were more than 190 such records.

He has yet to receive the documents.

But last night, Mr Foxe explained:

Previously: Frances, Nóirín and Tess

Where water wastage reports came from during the national hosepipe ban 

In July.

A national hosepipe ban was introduced due to the hot weather and subsequent drought in Ireland.

It was recently lifted from the west and northwest of the country but it’s been extended until the end of September for 16 counties: Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary.

During the national ban, some people contacted Irish Water about others they believed flouted the ban.

FOI sleuth and Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer Ken Foxe reports…

Yikes.

Was it from Lidl?

Previously: Selling Like Hot Tubs

Water Rats

Journalist Ken Foxe, former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and PR advisor Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic

The Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall yesterday quashed a previous decision by the Department of Justice to refuse to release correspondence sent between the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and her officials and Terry Prone and her PR company the Communications Clinic.

The department made this decision on the basis that there was no such correspondence.

However, Mr Tyndall’s office, in reviewing the department’s decision, found there is such correspondence.

He concluded the department did not take “all reasonable steps to ascertain the whereabouts of further records”; and he has requested that the department ask Ms Fitzgerald to check her personal email accounts for any other records.

On March 11, 2017, journalist, Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer and director at Right To Know Ken Foxe made a request for “copies of all correspondence, both written and electronic” between Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald and/or her private office and Terry Prone and her PR company the Communications Clinic – from the time Ms Fitzgerald was made Minister for Justice to the date of his request.

This meant Mr Foxe’s request covered correspondence between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017.

[Ms Fitzgerald stepped down as Minister for Justice on June 14, 2017]

The department wrote back to Mr Foxe two days after receiving his request, saying it was seeking four more weeks (on top of the initial four weeks provided for) to make a decision on the matter, without any explanation for why they needed the extra time.

On May 15, 2017, Mr Foxe sought an internal review as, by then, Mr Foxe deemed his request was refused.

On June 8, 2017, the department decided to refuse the request because, it said, there were no such records.

But it’s on public record Ms Fitzgerald paid the Communications Clinic, via a special secretarial allowance, more than €11,000 between the date she became minister and the end of 2016.

Those present at Disclosures Tribunal earlier this year also saw written/email communications between Ms Prone and Ms Fitzgerald during the relevant time of Mr Foxe’s request.

In the same month, June 2017, Mr Foxe appealed the department’s decision to the Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall – believing that there had not been a thorough search of Ms Fitzgerald’s professional and personal emails and messages.

In turn, an investigator with the Information Commissioner’s office asked the Department of Justice about the steps it took to search for records relevant to Mr Foxe’s request.

The department then discovered 74 records which had not been considered relevant previously.

In his decision regarding Mr Foxe’s appeal, Mr Tyndall wrote:

“It seems that in late January 2018, following concerns expressed by my investigative staff that further records could be held, the Department searched archived email accounts.

My Office identified 68 records that fall within the scope of the applicant’s request and advised the Department of this. The remaining six records were created after the FOI request was made and are not therefore within the scope of the review.”

Mr Tyndall also wrote that some of the records finally located by the department were related to speeches given by Ms Fitzgerald.

He also wrote:

“in response to the query about whether it [the department] had considered
records held in personal email accounts, the department stated that it ‘has no access to or control over such accounts, particularly in respect of persons no longer working in the Department’.”

Mr Tyndall, in his decision, explained that the Department of Justice said it wouldn’t be appropriate for it to ask Ms Fitzgerald whether she has records of correspondence with Ms Prone or the Communications Clinic in her personal email accounts “that might fall within the scope of the request”, and that the department “does not feel it is in a position to go outside of the scope of the FOI Act and seek such information from [Ms Fitzgerald] in an attempt to respond to an FOI request”.

However, Mr Tyndall said he couldn’t accept this position.

Specifically, Mr Tyndall said:

It appears from the records retrieved by the Department and dealt with above that the former Minister and some of her staff used gmail addresses in correspondence with the company [the Communications Clinic] about official functions and activities of the Department.

“To the extent that a gmail or other account may have been used in this way, I do not accept that such content could reasonably be characterised as “private”. I do not believe that it is particularly relevant that the former Minister is no longer working in the Department.”

Yesterday Mr Tyndall made the following decision:

“I hereby annul the department’s decision to effectively refuse access to records identified during the course of this review and I direct it to undertake a fresh decision making process on those records.

“I direct the department to ask the former minister whether she holds additional records within the scope of the applicant’s FOI request and if she does, to retrieve them and furnish them to the department so that it can make a decision on them in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act.

“The fresh decision making process should be carried out and decisions on both elements above notified to the applicant in accordance with section 8 of the FOI Act.

“For clarity, I specify that subject to sections 24 and 26 of the Act, the statutory time limit for making a decision begins within five working days of the expiration of the four week period for the bringing of a High Court appeal.”

There you go now.

Previously: ‘Records Do In Fact Exist’

Norin’s Prone Position

Thanks Ken

UPDATE:

From top (left): Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic; former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; a response journalist Ken Foxe received from An Garda Siochana on foot of an FOI request

You may recall a previous post about the Communications Clinic and how it was hired by both An Garda Siochana and the Department of Justice in both 2015 and 2016.

An Garda Siochana paid the the firm €10,400  and €92,955 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The Department of Justice paid the Communications Clinic  €756 and €24,221 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The post drew attention to the fact two separate attempts made earlier this year, by journalists Ali Bracken, of the Irish Daily Mail, and Ken Foxe – to obtain details of An Garda Siochana’s hiring of the Communications Clinic, under the Freedom of Information Act – were rejected.

Specifically, Mr Foxe sought “copies of any emails between the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and PR consultant Terry Prone or the Communications Clinic during the period in which those services were provided to AGS.”

An Garda Siocana refused Mr Foxe’s request on the basis that there were no emails that were subject to FOI (see docs above).

Further to this…

Last March, Mr Foxe also sent a similar FOI request to the Department of Justice for “copies of all correspondence – both written and electronic – between the Minister Frances Fitzgerald and/or her private office and any of the following people or companies: Terry Prone and/or the Communications Clinic. “

Mr Foxe’s request was eventually refused on the basis that there were no records.

He then appealed this decision.

Yesterday.

Mr Foxe tweeted what he wrote in his appeal and the response he got from the Department of Justice…


Via Ken Foxe

Previously: Noirin’s Prone Position

George Gibney

George Gibney was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in April, 1993 but the charges were dropped because of the length of time which had passed since the abuse took place.

The former Irish swimming coach was granted a visa during a visit to the United States in 1992 – seemingly aided by a Garda character reference – a year after people who had been abused by him started to speak up and organise themselves.

In addition, a 2010 application by Gibney to obtain US citizenship – some months after Evin Daly, of the Florida-based advocacy group One Child International alerted the US government of Gibney’s past in Ireland – was rejected.

It’s also understood Gibney may have lied in this application.

And yet.

Gibney remains in the United States.

The revelations about his 1992 visa and 2010 citizenship bid have been revealed by US journalist Irvin Muchnick who has been trying to get Gibney’s immigration file from the Department of Homeland Security, under the Freedom of Information Act.

He has received partial documents, most of them redacted, over the past number of years.

But a senior federal judge for the Northern District of California, Judge Charles Breyer, revealed the details of the 1992 visa and the rejected 2010 citizenship application during a court hearing of the FOI bid last year.

Mr Muchnick was only able to publish details of this hearing last weekend.

A transcript of that court hearing on October 28, 2016, in San Francisco can be read here

The federal government is appealing a previous ruling by Judge Breyer in Mr Muchnick’s favour and the matter is now at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Mediation Service so discussions are ongoing.

However, during the court hearing on October 28, 2016, Judge Breyer questioned why Gibney suffered no consequences from the US authorities.

He said the following:

“How is a person permitted to remain in the United States when, in fact, the circumstances of the Ireland experience or what occurred in Ireland are publically known, that’s number one.

And number two, if, and I would use the word ‘if,’ he gave false answers in connection with an application, how is it that that somehow doesn’t bring into question the term of his initial visa permit or his initial visa.”

Let’s say I, as an example, am granted a visa to come to the United States. And subsequent — and I answer all the questions and I don’t answer falsely. Okay. So I mean, I have that visa application.

And then a series of events occur which would normally disqualify a person from getting a visa, which maybe is an assumption that I don’t know, that I can’t figure out, but I have to assume that if somebody has been charged with the types of offenses that Mr. Gibney has been charged with, the United States, absent other circumstances, would not grant a visa.

We’re not a refuge for pedophiles. And there’s no issue here of which I’m aware of, which is the asylum issue. Okay.

“So I apply — it’s unfortunate I’m using me as an example — but I apply, and then some things surface and I go back to Ireland and then I come back to the United States.

Now, if we froze events at that point, of course, my question would be, does the visa in the United States, one, expire? And two, if it doesn’t expire, is there a process where Department of Homeland Security reviews visa applications in light of undiscovered information and then takes some conduct, or takes some action.

I have no idea whether that’s the case or not.

“But that’s not necessarily the case I wanted to posit because the case I wanted to posit goes on from there. And it involves, at that point, me. Because I’m the applicant, I filled out a form, and perhaps, theoretically, I’m not honest in the form that I fill out for further relief; that is, to be a citizen. And so it’s denied.

But my question would be, by virtue of that activity, does that then go — didn’t — did somebody in the Department of Homeland Security say, Well, you know this person lied to us today, or whenever that application, I think we have to go back and question the legitimacy of allowing that person to remain in the United States.

There may be reasons to allow him to remain in the United States. There’s nothing that you have submitted to me that indicates any reasons why he’s allowed in the United States, nor any investigation, that I can see, of going back and looking at the original application or the continuation of the visa.”

The revelations mean that Gibney got a US visa a year before he was charged in Ireland.

He went on to seek and win a High Court judicial review in 1994 that quashed all the charges against him.

The judicial review was secured after a Supreme Court decision, during which Gibney’s senior counsel Patrick Gageby argued that the delay in initiating the prosecution against Gibney infringed his right to a fair trial.

Mr Gageby’s sister, future Chief Justice Susan Denham was on the bench of the Supreme Court that day.

Gibney subsequently left Ireland, first for Scotland and then America.

Justine McCarthy in The Sunday Times, reported that other documents released to Mr Muchnick showed Gardaí gave Gibney a certificate of character – issued on January 20, 1992 – to support his application for an American visa.

The certificate given to Mr Muchnick was reported to be partially redacted with the name of the issuing officer and its contents obscured.

The issue of the Garda character reference came despite claims that gardai were notified of allegations against Gibney prior to January 1992.

According to the Murphy Inquiry – which was set up to look at abuse in swimming in 1998 – a parent from a club other than Trojan Swimming Club, where Gibney coached, was told by an assistant coach of Trojan in November 1991 that the gardai and the ISPCC were informed of the allegations in relation to Gibney.

However, later, the ISPCC said it had no record of any such complaint in 1991 or in 1992. The Murphy Inquiry states the first record on the Garda file is dated December 15, 1992.

Further to this…

Readers may wish to recall the following timeline of events leading up to 1992…

In December 1990, swimmer Chalkie White told European silver medalist Gary O’Toole that Gibney abused him from the age of 11 in 1967, prompting O’Toole to find out who else had been abused by whom in the Irish swimming world.

In January, 1991, while in Australia, swimmer Mr White told the honorary medical officer of both the Irish Amateur Swimming Association and the Leinster Branch of the IASA, Moira O’Brien, that he had been abused by Gibney.

White would later tell the Murphy Inquiry – set up to look at abuse in swimming – that Ms O’Brien told him it would be his word against Gibney and that he should ‘get on with it’.

Ms O’Brien would later tell the Murphy Inquiry, Chalkie was ‘confused’ and ’emotionally unstable as a result of a head injury’ and that Chalkie didn’t want her to report the matter. She would also later say a ‘doctor-patient relationship’ existed and that Chalkie didn’t want his complaint to be reported.

In 1991, GIbney allegedly raped a female swimmer, aged 17, in a hotel room while they were on a swimming trip with the Trojan Swimming Club in Tampa, Florida. He previously attacked the same girl in Holland in 1990.

The rape resulted in the girl becoming pregnant and a high-ranking official in swimming taking her to England for an abortion. It’s also alleged that the official warned the girl not to tell anyone about the termination.

In February 1991, Mr White told the then President of the Leinster Branch of the IASA, Frank McCann about Gibney’s abuse and McCann says he’ll deal with the matter. (McCann, who also abused child swimmers, is later found guilty of murdering his wife and niece, in an attempt to cover up for his abuse in 1996)

Also around this time in February 1991, assistant female coach Carol Walsh, to whom Mr White also confided, also tells McCann about the abuse. She claims McCann replied that, “he hoped to fuck it wouldn’t break while he was president”.

He also tells her there was nothing he could do about the allegations and advised her “to back off and not get involved”.

Later, in an interview with RTÉ in 1998, Ms Walsh says that, after approaching the IASA about the matter, she received threats and anonymous phone calls.

On February 8, 1991, Gibney announced he was stepping down from his position as Irish swimming coach, after 11 years, “to devote more time to the Trojan Club and the sports centre he manages in Dublin”. Another abusive coach Derry O’Rourke succeeds him.

Mr White tells the National Development Officer of the IASA, in March 1991, about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Gibney. The officer later tells the Murphy Inquiry nothing specific was told to him and that he didn’t know of any abuse until November 1992.

In June of that year, Mr White told the secretary of the IASA, Hillary Hughes, about the abuse he suffered. The secretary later tells the Murphy Inquiry that she did not remember his allegations.

In November of 1991, according to the Murphy Inquiry, a parent from a club other than Trojan Swimming Club was told by an assistant coach of Trojan that the gardai and the ISPCC were informed of the allegations in relation to Gibney.

But later the ISPCC said it had no record of any such complaint in 1991 or in 1992. According to the Murphy Inquiry, the first record on the Garda file was dated December 15, 1992.

In addition, the Murphy Inquiry states: “The President of the IASA in 1992, had been told at the end of 1991 by a senior swimmer of complaints that [Gibney] was in serious trouble for molesting young children. The senior swimmer requested that the President organise a meeting at which Gardai would be present. The President took legal advice. No meeting was held.”

Irish Times journalist Johnny Watterson later reported that, after Mr O’Toole wrote to the IASA seeking a meeting, he received a reply on January 15, 1992 which said: “The IASA cannot act on mere rumour and innuendo and the person concerned has a basic right to his good name and reputation unless and until first hand complaint is made.”

Previously: Unreasonable Delay

The Chief Justice, Her Brother, And How George Gibney Got Away

How George Gibney Lied on His 2010 Application For American Citizenship (Concussion, Irvin Muchnick)

George Gibney’s 2010 Application For American Citizenship Was Rejected, With No Other Consequences, Federal Judge Said (Concussion, Irvin Muchnick)

From the Office of the Information Commissioner’s annual report for 2016

Today.

Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall released the Office of the Information Commissioner’s annual report for 2016 – a year which saw requests to An Garda Síochána rise from 183 in 2015 to 459 in 2016, representing a 150 per cent increase.

In the report, Mr Tyndall also says:

I am disappointed to report that my office has noted ongoing and, in some cases, increasing examples of some public bodies failing to meet the statutory requirements of the FOI Act.

For example, later in my report I comment on the number of occasions that public bodies have not responded to FOI requests within statutory timeframes and on the fact that my office noted an all-time high of instances where the request was deemed to have been refused by the public body in the absence of a timely decision. I also report on several instances where my office had to issue statutory notices to ensure compliance with the Act.

Specifically.

In regards to the OIC – under Section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act – being able to order a public body to provide it with any information it believes to be relevant for a review.

It issued two such Section 45 notices to TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency.

In relation to this…

Mr Tyndall writes:

TUSLA was requested to provide copies of the subject records for a review, on 14 April 2016. Despite a further telephone reminder the records were not forwarded to my Office. On 4 May 2016, we issued a section 45 notice to the Chief Executive of TUSLA and the records in question were delivered almost three weeks later.

And in relation to the second case, Mr Tyndall writes…

My office wrote to TUSLA on 13 June 2016 and requested copies of the relevant subject records within ten working days. On 27 June an incomplete set of records was received.

On 15 July, my Office issued a section 45 notice to the Chief Executive, again requesting the relevant records. While TUSLA delivered a further set of records on 29 July, they were not the ones requested. As a result, on 8 August, we took the unusual step of issuing a second section 45 notice to the Chief Executive. We received the correct records on 11 August, two months after the original request.

Read the report in full here

gibney-1

irvin

Former Irish swimming coach George Gibney; and journalist Irvin Muchnik

Readers may recall American journalist Irvin Muchnick’s efforts to obtain the US Department of Homeland Security’s immigration file on former Irish swimming coach George Gibney.

Gibney was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in April, 1993 – but sought and won a High Court judicial review in 1994 that quashed all the charges against him.

Mr Muchnick hopes the immigration file will shed light on how Gibney was able to get a visa, and then a green card, to live in the States, given the previous charges against him.

Readers will also recall how some partially redacted documents from the immigration file, previously released to Mr Muchnick, have already showed that Gardaí gave Gibney a certificate of character – issued on January 20, 1992 – to support his application for an American visa.

According to the Murphy Inquiry – which was set up to look at abuse in swimming in 1998 – a parent from a club other than Trojan Swimming Club, where Gibney coached, was told by an assistant coach of Trojan in November 1991 that the gardai and the ISPCC were informed of the allegations in relation to Gibney.

But, later, the ISPCC said it had no record of any such complaint in 1991 or in 1992. And, the Murphy Inquiry states the first record on the Garda file is dated December 15, 1992.

On Friday, Mr Muchnick argued for the release of the documents before Judge Charles Breyer, a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The hearing followed a May hearing, during which Judge Breyer said he would review in camera (privately) disputed documents from George Gibney’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services file, and render a decision.

Further to this…

Mr Muchnick writes:

At the conclusion of a hearing lasting nearly an hour, United States District Court Senior Judge Charles Breyer said he would shortly issue a “tentative” order in which he will likely require the Department of Homeland Security to release publicly additional portions, at least, of the 20 documents from George Gibney’s immigration records that remain under dispute.

During a spirited discussion with my attorney Roy Gordet and the assistant U.S. attorney James Scharf, Judge Breyer made it clear, without tipping his conclusions, that he has serious reservations regarding some of the privacy exemptions that continue to be claimed in this Freedom of Information Act case.

The judge said he will forward to the government highlighted sections or entire documents that he believes should be disclosed, and will harden his tentative order into a fully enforceable one only if the two sides remain at an impasse over particular details. Counsel agreed that this will be a good penultimate step.

I hesitate to report on or characterize the court’s remarks throughout the hearing, for I do not want to compromise the order that is forthcoming and I do not want to substitute my interpretation of them for the simple and full-context publication of the transcript (which I hope to do shortly).

However, it was clear that Breyer understood the pertinent history and controversy over the sex crime allegations against Gibney. And it was especially clear that the circumstances and disposition of Gibney’s 2010 U.S. citizenship application could have considerable impact on the judge’s upcoming decision with respect to exactly what will be revealed.

Four law student observers — three from the University of California-Berkeley and one from Hastings College of Law in San Francisco — were in attendance.

Early in the hearing, Judge Breyer invited me up to sit at the counsel table with Gordet, and later thanked me for my role in bringing legitimate public curiosity over the Gibney matter to this head. I greatly appreciated both gestures as we await what the court now will order the government to produce.

Federal Judge to Issue ‘Tentative’ Order Signaling Partial Disclosure of George Gibney Immigration Files, As Both Sides Agree to Bring FOIA Case to Resolution (Irvin Muchnick, Concussionnet.inc)

Previously: George Gibney’s Green Card

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 09.43.35 Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 09.43.43 Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 09.43.52 Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 09.44.01

A letter sent from former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes to Finance Minister Michael Noonan on February 14, 2013 

You may recall how Mr Justice Brian Cregan was appointed to carry out a Commission of Investigation into IBRC on June 16, 2015.

One of the terms of reference is “whether the Minister for Finance or his Department was kept informed where appropriate in respect of the transactions concerned, and whether he, or officials on his behalf, took appropriate steps in respect of the information provided to them.”

The commission’s establishment followed Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy asking Finance Minister Michael Noonan questions about the sale of Siteserv to a company owned by Denis O’Brien.

Further to this.

The former chairman of IBRC Alan Dukes sent a letter to Finance Minister Michael Noonan on February 14, 2013 – a week after IBRC went into liquidation.

This letter was obtained from the Department of Finance by Ms Murphy, following a Freedom of Information request.

Readers will note there were three sentences redacted in the letter of February 14, 2013.

Following an appeal to the Information Commissioner, the commissioner annulled the decision of the department to redact these sentences.

It found the manner in which the Department had processed the request “most unsatisfactory” and not in keeping with the statutory provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

Further to this, Justine McCarthy, in yesterday’s Sunday Times, reported:

The Sunday Times has established that the three missing sentences from Dukes’s letter are:

“1. The Department of Finance has at all times been provided with all papers presented to the board;

2. The Department of Finance has been entitled to have an observer at every meeting of the board;

3. The minutes of all committee meetings were systematically provided to the Department of Finance.”

…The ruling by Stephen Rafferty, an investigator in the information commissioner’s office, was made on February 8 but only made public last Thursday. The department has until March 1 to lodge an appeal to the High Court.

…When told what the redacted portion of Dukes’s letter says, Murphy replied: “It’s strange the department would have redacted that. It obviously gives a clue about something. There seems to be a surprisingly small amount of information [available] about the relationship between the department and the bank, given how bad we know that relationship was.

The information commissioner was quite scathing about the department and the fact they are taking their time about whether they’ll release it or lodge an appeal indicates there is not a culture of openness there.”

Anyone?

Revealed: Hidden claims over IBRC liquidation (Justine McCarthy, Sunday Times)