The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014 gives members of the public access to information in the possession of public bodies. While Carlow College, St. Patrick’s is a private institution it is subject to FOI legislation as it is in receipt of public monies, including that our learners may avail of the Free Fees Initiative.
Rights under the FOI Act
Under the FOI Act, individuals are entitled to apply for access to information held in records that are not otherwise publicly available. Each individual has a right to:
- Access information held in records by FOI bodies
- Have official information relating to him/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
- Obtain reasons for decisions affecting him/herself made by FOI bodies.
The Act asserts the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.
Information which Carlow College, St. Patrick’s makes available outside of FOI is detailed in our FOI Publication Scheme.
Records under the scope of the FOI Act
The Act applies to records in all formats, including written and printed material, machine-readable formats, maps, plans or drawings, and visual images.
Carlow College, St Patrick’s came within the remit of FOI legislation under the 2014 Act and therefore, the following records are potentially accessible:
- Non-personal records from 21 April 2008
- Personal information no matter when created.
Some of the key FOI exemptions
- Personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request)
- Commercially sensitive information
- Information supplied to the College in confidence
- Deliberations of the College
- The performance of certain investigative functions and negotiations
- Law enforcement and public safety
- Research and natural resources.
How to make an FOI request
- Applications must be in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or FOI Officer, Carlow College, St. Patrick’s, College Street, Carlow
- The application must state that it is made under the FOI Act
- Provide contact details so that you are easily contactable if clarification of the request is necessary
- If the request concerns personal information, you may be asked for proof of identity. Typical forms of identification are a driving licence, passport or student card.
- If you request access to information in records, you must:
- Indicate if records are required in a particular form
- Include as much detail as possible in order to enable the College to identify relevant records.
- If you believe that records held by Carlow College, St. Patrick’s about you are incorrect, incomplete or misleading you may apply to have them amended as follows:
- Give details of the information which you believe is incorrect, incomplete or misleading
- Specify the amendments that you wish to have made
- Supply information in support of your application.
- Section 27 of the Act provides for fees and charges. No fee applies for requests for your own personal records. Requesters will be advised any fee which is payable, including for search, retrieval and copying of records.
Right of appeal
If a requester is dissatisfied with the decision made on a request, he/she may appeal the decision by contacting the FOI Officer. Reviews are carried out by a more senior staff member (Internal Reviewer) than the initial Decision Maker. If requesters remain dissatisfied following an internal review, they may appeal the decision to the Information Commissioner.
Guidelines for Governors and employees
- If you receive a request for information which cites the FOI Act, please do not reply to it and send it to the FOI Officer without delay
- If you are contacted by an individual who wishes to make an FOI request, please refer him/her to the FOI Officer
- If you are unsure about the status of a request for information, please contact the FOI Officer to discuss it
- The FOI Act may be used to seek access to information that is not already publicly available. If your position entails giving out routine information, please continue to fulfil your functions as normal
- If the FOI Officer is absent, please forward the request to the Office of the President
- The FOI Officer will assign a Decision Maker to reply to the FOI request. The Decision Maker may request the assistance of Governors and employees, for instance, in order to locate and copy records relevant to the request. Please assist the Decision Maker in a timely manner as the FOI Act imposes time limits for processing requests.