Mr X and Irish Rail

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date22 October 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator varied Irish Rail’s decision. He directed the release of further parts of the records at issue on the ground that the redacted information did not comprise personal information for the purposes of the Act.
RespondentIrish Rail
Record NumberOIC-102153-M0G1S5
Whether Irish Rail was justified in redacting, under section 37(1) of the FOI Act, certain information from records coming within the scope of the applicant’s request

22 October 2021

Background

The applicant submitted a request to Irish Rail on 13 October 2020, seeking “All correspondence and documentation between [Irish Rail] and [its] agents, Port of Cork Company and their agents, Cork County Council and Cobh Municipal District from 1997 to present day 2020 with regard to any aspect of Ownership, Development and/or Maintenance of any part of Cobh’s Deepwater Quay, including Cobh Cruise Terminal and Five Foot Way adjacent to Cobh Rail Station”. As Irish Rail failed to issue a decision on the request within the statutory time-frame, the applicant sought an internal review of the deemed refusal of his request.

Irish Rail issued its internal review decision on 22 December 2020, wherein it granted partial access to four records it identified as coming within the scope of the request, with the redaction of certain information under section 37 of the Act. On 14 January 2021, the applicant sought a review by this Office of Irish Rail’s decision. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the redactions made and also argued that the documentation received comprises only a partial disclosure.

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 correspondence between the applicant and Irish Rail and to the correspondence between this Office and both parties on the matter. I have also examined the records that Irish Rail identified as coming within the scope of the request. I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision.

Scope of the Review

There has been considerable confusion in this case as to the precise nature and extent of the records sought by the applicant. On its face, the request as worded appears to be quite broad, covering a range of issues and a considerable time period. It is also rather vague, in so far as it seeks records regarding “any aspect of ownership, development and/or maintenance of” various locations.

Section 12(1)(b) of the Act provides that an FOI request must sufficient particulars in relation to the information concerned to enable the record sought to be identified by the taking of reasonable steps. Section 15(1)(b) allows a public body to refuse a request where it does not comply with the requirements of section 12 (1)(b), although it is important to note that it cannot refuse a request under that section unless...

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