Ms X and Dublin City Council

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date14 October 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator annulled the decision of the Council and remitted the matter back to the Council for consideration afresh.
RespondentDublin City Council
Record NumberOIC-107885-V4K9K9
Whether the Council was justified in refusing access, under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act, to further records containing details of the number of emergency accommodation facilities in Dublin that were subject to enforcement proceedings by the fire authority and of the reasons for the enforcement action in each case

OIC-107885-V4K9K9

Background

On 19 February 2021, the applicant made a request to the Council for access to records indicating how many emergency accommodation facilities in Dublin were currently subject to enforcement proceedings by the fire authority, and to records showing reasons for the enforcement action in each case. The applicant stated that names and addresses of specific hostels could be redacted or withheld.

On 19 March 2021, the Council refused the request under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the ground that no relevant records existed in circumstances where no relevant legal action had been undertaken. It added that as of the date of the request, Dublin Fire Brigade was actively engaging or had recently engaged with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and/or service operators with respect to 14 emergency accommodation facilities. It said Dublin Fire Brigade was currently working in co-operation with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and the service operators in those cases to address fire safety issues where identified.

On 31 March 2021, the applicant sought an internal review of the Council’s decision, wherein she indicated that her request was for records in relation to enforcement proceedings and not legal action, as referenced in the Council’s original decision. She alleged that the Council had already confirmed via FOI and subsequent email that enforcement proceedings were being taken in relation to homeless hostels.

In its Internal Review decision dated 30 April 2021, the Council varied its original decision. It said it had sought clarification in respect of the meaning of the term “enforcement proceedings”, and had arrived at the understanding that same was defined as the point at which Dublin Fire Brigade (Fire Prevention Section), under the aegis of the Council, was notified with regard to fire safety issues in relation to a particular premises that required investigation as part of Dublin Fire Brigade’s enforcement processes.

The Council identified one record, relating to nine properties, as coming within the scope of the request, to which it granted partial access, with the redaction of certain...

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