Freedom of Information Office at University of Galway.

This office is responsible for assisting students, staff and the general public in exercising their rights under the Freedom of Information Act, which was extended to the University sector in 2001 and which is now governed by the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

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Introduction to Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 was signed into law on the 14 October 2014. The Act repeals and replaces the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003. 

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides the following statutory rights:

  •  A legal right for each person to access information held in the University's records. 
  • A legal right to have official information relating to themselves amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading.
  • A legal right to obtain reasons for decisions materially affecting themselves.

This means that apart from information already published or otherwise available, under the FOI Act 2014, individuals may apply;

  • for access to university records retrospectively to the date the original FOI Act was implemented, which was 21 April 1998;
  • for access to records that contain personal information about them irrespective of when created;
  • for access to their own personnel records created since 21 April 1995;
  • to have made known to them the reasons for decisions made by the university that have materially affected them. This right is effective from 22nd October 2001.

Under the Act, a record includes any papers, memorandum, text or other document, any photograph, film or recording or any form in which data are held (whether manual, mechanical or electronic), and anything that is a part or a copy, or a combination of the foregoing.

Limitations to Access: 

Access to information under the Act is subject to limitations. 

The FOI Act 2014 provides that the University can refuse to release certain types of information where their release:

  1.  would cause harm or injury; or
  2. would be prejudicial to the functioning of the University; or
  3. would be contrary to the public interest.

Should the University choose to withhold information under any of the exemptions provided for in the FOI Act 2014, the exemption or exemptions invoked will be set out in detail in the decision letter to the requester.

An individual will have the right to seek review of an initial decision to refuse access.  This will be to a higher authority within the University.  Should the requester be unhappy with the outcome of the review, they may appeal the decision to the Information Commissioner, an independent arbiter under the Act.  The internal review will normally take place before an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 can be viewed at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2014/en/act/pub/0030/index.html and further information can be viewed at http://foi.gov.ie.  University of Galway decision makers should consult the two Freedom of Information manuals at http://foi.gov.ie/guidance/manuals/.