Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming has accused Minister Brendan Howlin of a complete u-turn on promises to reform and expand Freedom of Information legislation.

Deputy Fleming said: “This week Minister Brendan Howlin will present a raft of changes to Freedom of Information legislation, creating secrecy in a whole range of areas, despite promises of reform and openness.  The entities listed below are currently subject to FoI but Minister Howlin has now decided to remove them from scope of the legislation.”

Minister Howlin is:

  • Excluding the performance of the new Strategic Banking Corporation (SBCI)
  • Excluding certain aspects of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA)
  • Excluding in its entirety the Shannon Group
  • Excluding in its entirety the Irish Red Cross
  • Excluding investigations and monitoring of public bodies by the An Coimisinéir Teanga
  • Restricting the effective date of information available from the Private Residential Tenancies Board
  • Restricting the effective date of information available from the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal 

Deputy Fleming commented: “This Government effectively had to be shamed into including Irish Water under the provisions of Freedom of Information.  This was an important change and sent a signal that politics was willing to be more open and transparent to help restore trust with the public.  Unfortunately this government is now going in the other direction.  Minister Howlin needs to explain why he is shutting down access to the public in these important bodies.  It is simply not good enough for him to rail-road it through the Dáil this week.”