Mr Ken Foxe of Right to Know CLG and Office of Public Works

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date14 Sep 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator annulled the decision of the OPW. He directed the release of the aggregate amount of expenditure on the installation of security measures at private residences for each of the years sought.
RespondentOffice of Public Works
Record NumberOIC-107794-C1C4K4
Whether the OPW was justified in refusing access, under sections 32(1)(a)(ix), 32(1)(b), 32(1)(c) and 42(h) of the Act, to details of expenditure in specified years on security at private residences including the homes of members of the Oireachtas, Judges, CAB officials, the President and/or former President(s)

14 September 2021

Background

This case has its background in an earlier OIC decision issued on 27 January 2021 (Case OIC-93056). In that case, the Senior Investigator found that the OPW was justified in refusing to grant a request for details of the amount of money spent on providing security at the homes of members of the Oireachtas during a specified period on the ground that no record containing the specific information sought existed and that the OPW was not obliged to create a new record to grant the request.

In essence, while the OPW indicated that it held information in relation to security at private residences, that information included details relating to various parties, including members of the Oireachtas, judges, CAB officials, the President and/or former Presidents. Having considered the OPW‘s description of its records management practices in respect of the information at issue, this Office accepted that the work involved in providing the specific information sought was such that it would involve the creation of a new record and that the OPW was not required to do so.

On 26 March 2021, the applicant submitted a request for the information the OPW indicated it holds “in relation to ‘security at private residences’ which includes members of the Oireachtas, Judges, CAB officials, the President and/or former President(s)”. He later clarified that the request covered the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 to date. In a decision dated 16 April 2021, the OPW refused the request under sections 15(1)(a), 32(1)(a)(ix), 32(1)(b), 32(1)(c) and 37(1) of the FOI Act.

The applicant sought an internal review of that decision. He referred back to his previous correspondence with the OPW and reiterated that he was seeking aggregated total costs associated with the provision of security at private residences by the OPW, and was not seeking any names or addresses associated with that expenditure. The OPW issued its internal appeal decision on 12 May 2021, affirming the original decision. On 18 May 2021, the applicant sought a review by this Office of the OPW’s decision.

I have now completed my review in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act. In carrying out my review, I have had regard to the submissions made by the applicant and by the OPW and to the correspondence between the parties. I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision.

Scope of the Review

During the review process, the OPW also sought to rely on section 42(h) as a ground for refusing the request. This review is therefore concerned with whether the OPW was justified in refusing...

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