Mr W and Eirgrid

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeDeirdre McGoldrick Senior Investigator
Judgment Date22 October 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator varied Eirgrid's decision. She annulled its decision and directed the release of the record. She found that it was justified in refusing access to further information under section 15(1)(a).
Record NumberOIC-104052-L1N4V9
RespondentEirgrid
Whether Eirgrid was justified in refusing access to records relating to procurement for the North South Interconnector Project, under sections 15(1)(a) and 36(1) of the FOI Act

22 October 2021

Background

On 25 January 2021, the applicant made an FOI request to Eirgrid for specified records regarding the procurement of steelwork/pylons for the North South Interconnector Project. On 27 January, Eirgrid issued a decision. It refused access to the information sought under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act, on the basis that the records did not exist as they did not belong to Eirgrid. On 28 January 2021, the applicant applied for an internal review. On 17 February 2021, Eirgrid issued an internal review decision, in which it varied its original decision. It identified three records. It granted access to two records and refused access to the remaining record under sections 36(1)(b) and 36(1)(c) of the FOI Act. It said that no other records were obtained following its new search and relied on section 15(1)(a). On 18 February 2021, the applicant applied to this Office for a review of Eirgrid's decision.

In conducting my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between the applicant and Eirgrid as outlined above, the correspondence between this Office and both parties, and to the content of the records that were provided to this Office by Eirgrid for the purposes of this review. I have also had regard to submissions received from ESB Networks (ESB).

Scope of this Review

The scope of this review is confined to whether Eirgrid was justified in refusing access to the withheld record under sections 36(1)(b) and (c) of the FOI Act. The applicant asked this Office to examine the adequacy of searches undertaken by Eirgrid. I will therefore consider whether section 15(1)(a) applies.

Preliminary Matters

Before considering the exemptions claimed, I wish to note the following. First, while I am required to give reasons for my decision under section 22(10) of the FOI Act, I am also required to take reasonable precautions to prevent disclosure of information in an exempt record, under section 25. This means that the extent to which I can describe the records and the level of detail I can discuss in my analysis are limited.

Secondly, in his application for review, the applicant said that the internal review decision-maker does not work for Eirgrid and asked this Office to address that point. The Investigator sought clarification from Eirgrid. Eirgrid confirmed in writing that the decision-maker at internal review stage “is a member of staff of Eirgrid, which operates as a group”. I therefore do not propose to consider this point further.

Analysis and Findings

Section 15(1)(a)

Section 15(1)(a) provides...

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