New Freedom of Information Bill is unique opportunity to increase scrutiny

Fianna Fáil proposals cut costs and ensure more accountability 

 

Fianna Fáil will force a vote tomorrow on an amendment to bring Irish Water under the provisions of Freedom of Information legislation.

Fianna Fáil wants the new agency, which is tasked with installing water metres to homes across the country, to be subject to public scrutiny.  The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin is expected to reject the plan.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming said: “The Committee hearings on the new Freedom of Information Bill start tomorrow and Minister Howlin looks set to reject opposition proposals out of hand.  I will be giving the Labour and Fine Gael members of the committee the opportunity to support plans to widen the scope of the legislation to Irish Water.  This is a new agency which is being given huge power and a huge budget and we need to know it will be held accountable.

“Fianna Fáil is putting forward over two dozen amendments to the Bill.  Minister Howlin and his colleagues in Labour and Fine Gael are actually bringing forward legislation that will increase costs for members of the public who are trying to access information.  The Minister’s Bill brings in ‘Additional Application Fees’ which will restrict people from using the legislation.  I will be proposing an amendment to abolish these additional fees.

“We want to see the Freedom of Information Act reformed to ensure there is more accountability and more transparency.  One of the biggest decisions that this Government will make is the establishment of Irish Water.  This will be a huge quango tasked with bringing in water metres and water charges next year.  Irish Water should be open to the same scrutiny as other public bodies.  If Labour and Fine Gael TDs reject these proposals tomorrow we will bring them back before the full Dáil again at Report Stage.”