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Ireland and the Freedom of Information ActFOI@15$
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Maura Adshead and Tom Felle

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719097188

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719097188.001.0001

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Freedom of information and policing

Freedom of information and policing

still a very secret service

(p.68) 4 Freedom of information and policing
Ireland and the Freedom of Information Act

Richard Dowling

Manchester University Press

Looks at the difficult balancing act required by the needs of freedom of information versus law enforcement. Richard Dowling, an RTE investigative journalist with considerable experience of using FOI legislation nationally and internationally, notes that unlike other states with FOI legislation, the Irish state has traditionally excluded the police force from FOI. This is set to change now that the Government has included An Garda S í och á na in the revised FOI legislation. In consequence, this chapter examines and questions that extension in order to assess how effective it is likely to be in practice. It notes that many parts of the organisation are excluded from the new FOI provisions and examines why this is the case, and how the Irish Act compares to other similar jurisdictions where the police are subject to FOI. Irish exemptions are compared with the FOI regimes in other jurisdictions, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, particularly in relation to the release of Irish material, which – ironically – may sometimes be obtained ‘second-hand’ from agencies in other states that are subject to FOI. An examination of this, and recent reports regarding gardaí and crime, reveals that the current FOI legislation, while welcome, remains limited in its capacity to deal with the Irish state’s approach to policing and accountability

Keywords:   Freedom of information, Legislation, Accountability

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