FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
1. What is FOI?
The FOI Act 2014 provides that every person has the following legal rights:
the right to access official records held by Government Departments and all public bodies that conform to the provisions of Section 6 of the Act;
the right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
the right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them.
These rights mean that people can seek access to personal information held on them.
2. How does FOI work?
The Act requires public bodies to respond to requests from the public for information they hold. In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a request within 4 weeks of receiving it.
3. How can I make a FOI Request?
FOI requests should be addressed to the FOI Unit of the body holding the records.
4. How can I make a FOI Request to the Brothers of Charity Services Ireland?
You should send a request either, in writing to: or by email to the relevant Region of the Brothers of Charity Services.
Brothers of Charity Services Ireland Ltd.
Co. Galway H91 K2E9
Tel: 091 796623
Brothers of Charity Services Clare
Ennis, Co Clare V95 PV29
Tel: 065 6849400
Brothers of Charity Services Galway
Galway H91 KN20
Tel: 091 721400
Brothers of Charity Services Limerick
Limerick V94 PRR8
Tel: 061 308149
Brothers of Charity Services Roscommon
Tel: 0906 628500
Brothers of Charity Services South East
Waterford X91 NCX7
Tel: 051 832211
Brothers of Charity Southern Services
Cork T23 PW59
Tel: 021 4556200
Your request should include the following:
A statement that the request is being made under the FOI Act;
As much information as possible about the records being sought;
In what format you wish to receive any records released (e.g. photocopies)
Alternatively, you may download the Application Form available on this website and submit this to the FOI Officer at the above address. A response will be given no later than 4 weeks upon receipt of Request.
5. Can I get access to any information that I seek?
The following records come within the scope of the FOI Acts:
all records relating to personal information held by the services irrespective of when they were created
all other records created from the commencement of the FOI Act (21 April 1998)
any records necessary to the understanding of a current record even if created prior to 21 April 1998
Personnel records of serving staff created from 21st April, 1995 and those created prior to that date where being used or proposed to be used in a way which adversely affects or may affect the person involved.
However, in order to allow business to be properly conducted, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information in some circumstances. These are set out in the Act. Among the key exemptions are records relating to:
law enforcement and security,
confidential and commercially sensitive information,
Personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request).
Requests may also be refused if they are deemed too voluminous or unclear but the Service is obliged to assist the requester in trying to overcome this.
6. Is there a charge for getting information under the FOI Act?
There is no charge for submitting a request. In respect of non-personal requests, other charges may be applied for the time spent finding records and for any reproduction costs incurred by the Service in providing you with the material requested (search, retrieval and copying charges). Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is less than €101, no fee is charged. Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €500 but less than €700, a maximum charge of €500 applies. Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €700, the body can refuse to process the request. Details of actual charges relating to your request will be notified to you in writing. (Payment should be made by way of Electronic Funds Transfer. Please contact the FOI Unit for bank details). A list of relevant fees is set out below:
List of Fees
There is no charge for submitting a request
Search and Retrieval – €20 per hour (for requests that exceed the €100 minimum in terms of search, retrieval and copying), subject to the ceilings mentioned above.
€0.04 per sheet for a photocopy
Internal review fee €30 (€10 for medical card holders)
Appeal to the Information Commissioner €50 (€15 for medical card holders)
There is no charge if the records concerned contain only personal information relating to the applicant, unless there are a significant number of records.
If you are claiming a reduced application fee, the request must be accompanied by the Medical Card registration number, issuing Health Board name and your consent to the verification of these details with that Health Board.
A full list of fees is available on request.
7. What if I am not satisfied with the decision on my FOI request?
You may appeal any decision issued by this Service by writing to the Director of Service/Service Leader of the relevant regions, seeking an Internal Review of the matter. A fee of €30 (€10 for medical card holders) may apply for such an appeal. There is no fee for internal review applications concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit. You should make your appeal within 4 weeks from the date of response (although late appeals may be permitted in certain circumstances).The appeal will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by a more senior member of staff of the Services and a decision will be communicated to you within 3 weeks.
8. What if I am not satisfied with the decision on internal review?
You may appeal the decision within six months by writing to the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you make an appeal the Information Commissioner will fully investigate and consider the matter and issue a fresh decision.
All appeals should be addressed to:
The Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689
Locall: 1890 22 30 30
Fax: +353 (1) 639 5674
A fee of €50 (€15 for medical card holders) may apply for such an application. Again, there is no fee for appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.
9. Can I get help in making a request?
Yes. If you require any help the staff in the FOI Unit will be happy to assist you in the formulation of your request. If you have a disability please request the Services FOI Officer who is available to provide assistance to persons with a disability to exercise their rights under the FOI Act. This can involve the FOI Officer where appropriate, supporting the individual to make a request, or accepting oral requests from individuals who are unable to read, print and/or write due to their disability, enabling the individual to inspect or have records explained to him or her in a medium that they understand.
10. Do I need to make a FOI request to get information from the Services?
No. The Brothers of Charity Services routinely makes information available to the public through its web site, information leaflets on services, publications for the people who use our services, and in response to enquiries. This will continue. FOI provides an additional source of information by facilitating access to records not made routinely available. A non-FOI request should usually be made to the nearest office of the Service in question. If the information cannot be released routinely the requester will be advised accordingly and informed of his/her rights under the Freedom of Information Act.
11. Where can I get more information on FOI?
Further information on FOI is available from:
The Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689
Locall: 1890 253 238
Fax: +353 (1) 639 5674
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Central Policy Unit
Floor 3, 7-9 Merrion Row
Tel: +353 (1) 631 8258
Fax: +353 (1) 604 5750
More comprehensive information on Freedom of Information, including the text of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is available at www.foi.gov.ie.
12. Publication of requests
The Services has a policy of posting a disclosure summary of non personal FOI requests on its website for reference purposes. View our Disclosure logs on the links below.
13. Useful links
Freedom of Information Act 2014 http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/acts/2014/a3014.pdf
Freedom of Information Act (Fees) (No. 2) Regulation 2014 http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2014/si/531/made/en/print
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner https://www.dataprotection.ie/
Department of Finance Central Policy Unit which has overall responsibility for FOI http://foi.gov.ie/
The Office of the Information Commissioner http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/Contact/
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office http://www.oco.ie/
The Office of the Ombudsman http://www.ombudsman.gov.ie
14. Data Protection
The Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 provide similar rights of access as the Freedom of Information Acts, the main difference being that the Data Protection Acts do not apply to records of deceased persons. As with the FOI Acts, these rights extend to your own personal records and in specific circumstances, to those of your children. There are exemptions provided for in the Acts, this means that there are specific circumstances when the requested information will not be released. If any of these exemptions are used to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained outlined to you. Data Protection is the safeguarding of the privacy rights of individuals in relation to the processing of personal data. The Services as a Data Controller must adhere to the eight rules of Data Protection. The eight rules, which apply whether the information is held on computer or in a manual form are:
Obtain and process information fairly
Keep it only for one or more specified, explicit and lawful purposes
Use and disclose it only in ways compatible with these purposes
Keep it safe and secure
Keep it accurate, complete and up-to-date
Ensure that it is adequate, relevant and not excessive
Retain it for no longer than is necessary for the purpose or purpose
Give a copy of his/her personal data to that individual on request.
You must apply in writing and simply refer to the Data Protection Act. The application may involve a fee of €6.35.
When to use the Data Protection Act
You may use either the Freedom of Information Acts or the Data Protection Acts to access personal information held by public bodies. However, the Data Protection Acts apply only to your own personal information (or in certain circumstances that of your child). A request for personal information does not have to refer to the Data Protection Acts. The applicant may be charged a fee not exceeding €6.35 (application of the fee is at the discretion of the service).
Entitlements under the Data Protection Acts
A decision will, in normal circumstances, issue within 40 days of date of your request
Details of your entitlement to complain to the Data Protection Commissioner will be included in the decision letter
Access to Information
To make an access request under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003. Please ensure that you describe the records you seek in the greatest detail possible to enable us to identify the relevant records. There may be a fee of €6.35 for an application under Data Protection. Write/email the FOI Officer in the appropriate Region of the Brothers of Charity Service and they will either deal with your request or forward it to the appropriate person.
15. Administrative Access
Administrative access is the process where you just write in and request a record. If the record is not deemed to be sensitive or require the protections applied in the Data Protection and FOI Acts, the records will be released.