Mr T and the Department of the Taoiseach

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date21 August 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that the Department was not justified in its decision to withhold access to the record. He annulled the decision of the Department and directed the release of the record.
Record Number150124
RespondentDepartment of the Taoiseach
Whether the Department was justified in its decision to refuse to release a letter from the designated judge to the Taoiseach under section 8 of the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993
Conducted in accordance with the FOI Act, by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review

The applicant submitted a request to the Department on 11 February 2015 for all communications or reports from the Designated Judge to the Taoiseach under section 8 of the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993 other than annual reports under section 8(2)(a), and all reports from the Complaints Referee to the Taoiseach under section 9.

In its decision dated 10 March 2015, the Department refused access to the one record it identified as coming within the scope of the request under sections 32(1)(a) and 33(1)(a) (referring to law enforcement and public safety, and security, defence and international relations, respectively) of the FOI Act. The Department did not give any reasons for its decision.

The applicant sought an internal review of that decision and in its internal review decision dated 7 April 2015, the Department upheld its original decision to refuse access to the record. It again neglected to give reasons for its decision notwithstanding the fact that the applicant had drawn the Department's attention to this omission in his application for internal review. The applicant applied to this Office for a review of the Department's decision on 27 April 2015.

Following acceptance of the application for review, Ms Elizabeth Dolan, Senior Investigator, issued a letter under section 23(1) of the FOI Act to the Secretary General of the Department, requiring the Department to furnish a written statement of its reasons for refusal, identifying the relevant provisions of the Act and any findings on any material issues relevant to the decision and particulars of any matter relating to the public interest taken into consideration for the purposes of the decision. In addition, Mr. Christopher Campbell of this Office wrote to the Department inviting a focused submission on the matter.

As the Department has now delivered to this Office both its submission and its response to the section 23 letter, I consider that this review should now be brought to a close by the issue of a formal binding decision. In conducting this review I have had regard to the decisions of the Department on this request and its submissions to this Office, to the...

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