Galway & Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) is now included under the Freedom of Information Act, 2014 as and from Tuesday 14th April, 2015.
Entitlements under the FOI Acts:
- Receipt of a valid FOI request will be acknowledged within 10 working days;
- A response will, in normal circumstances, be issued within 20 working days of receipt of a valid request;
- All decisions will be clearly explained, setting out the sections of the Act used in reaching these decisions;
- Details of a requester’s entitlement to Internal Review and appeal will be included in the decision letter.
The Freedom of Information Act was introduced to:
- Increase openness;
- Improve accountability;
- Increase public appreciation of issues involved in policy decisions;
- Give stronger public ownership and acceptance of decisions made;
- Permit people access to their records and allow them to amend records if incorrect.
The Act sets out three new legal rights: -
- A legal right for each person to access information of a personal or non-personal nature held by public bodies;
- A legal right to have official information relating to him/her amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
- A legal right to seek reasons for decisions that affect him/her;
These rights extend to an individual’s own records and in specific circumstances, to those of their children and deceased relatives. There are exemptions provided for in the Acts, this means that there are specific circumstances when the requested information will not be released, e.g. to protect confidentiality. If any of these exemptions are used to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained.
What is a record?
A record includes a book or other written or printed material which is in any form including in any electronic device. It is a map, plan or drawing, a disc, tape or film which contains visual or non-visual images or a copy of any of these.
What Records can be accessed under FOI from GRETB?
- All records created on and after the 14th April 2015;
- All personal records, whenever created that are still in the position of GRETB;
- All non –personal records created backdated to 21st April 2008;
- Earlier non-personal records (where they exist) if needed to understand later records which are accessed.
An individual may make a request for access to records. This request must be in writing stating that the request is made under the FOI Act and containing sufficient particulars in relation to the information concerned to enable the record to be identified.
A member of the public has the right to request information regarding actions of public bodies affecting them. A Freedom of Information request is a formal procedure and GRETB, as a public body, is required to respond within four weeks. The request will be considered in accordance with the Act having regard to the exemptions provided for, which include:
- Personal Information (other than information relating to the person making the request);
- Information supplied to GRETB in confidence;
- Law enforcement and public safety;
- Commercially sensitive information;
- Deliberations of public bodies;
- Functions and negotiations of public bodies.
Making a Request under the Freedom of Information Act
How do I make an FOI request?
- A request must be made in writing;
- The request must state that it is being made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2014;
- The request must be signed and dated;
- The request must state clearly the exact records/information being requested and supply as much detail (i.e. school/centre/office location, dates in attendance etc.) as possible;
- The request should state clearly the manner in which access is sought, for example, to view the original in a GRETB location or to receive photocopies of the original, hear / view audio-visual record, obtain a copy of a computer disk or other electronic device etc.;
- Supply proof of identity as relevant to the information sought;
- Galway & Roscommon ETB will accept requests by letter, fax, email, web mail.
FOI Application Form:
Send the FOI request to:
Ms. Louise Brett, FOI Officer, Galway & Roscommon Education & Training Board, An Coiléar Bán, Athenry, Co. Galway Email: email@example.com
Details of FOI Process and Rights to Appeal:
- An acknowledgement will be sent within 10 working days, of receipt of a valid request;
- GRETB will issue a decision to the requester within 20 working days upon receipt of a valid request;
- Notification will be sent, if an extension is necessary to facilitate the completion of the request;
- If an individual is dissatisfied with the decision made they may send an appeal in writing to the Internal Reviewer, named in the Decision Letter within four weeks of the original decision. This review is independent of the initial Decision Maker’s decision;
- A complete decision on the appeal will be sent to the requester within 15 working days of receipt of appeal;
- If dissatisfied with the Internal Reviewer’s decision the requester may appeal directly to the Information Commissioner (http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/) within six months from date of the internal reviewer’s decision, where an independent review of the matter will be carried out.
The GRETB Liaison Officer for the Office of the Information Commissioner:
The designated GRETB Liaison Officer for the Office of the Information Commissioner is: – Ms. Mairead Thompson, Head of Corporate Affairs Galway & Roscommon Education & Training Board, Coiléar Bán, Athenry, Co. Galway.
Fees relating to FOI requests:
The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides for a completely new FOI fees regime. The following is a summary of the new fee structure in respect of non-personal requests: –
- The €15.00 application fee has been abolished;
- There is a minimum threshold of €101 below which no search, retrieval and copying fees can be charged. Once the charge reaches €101, full fees apply;
- There is a cap on the amount of search, retrieval and copying fees that can be charged of €500;
- There is a further upper limit on estimated search, retrieval and copying fees at €700.00 above which an FOI body can refuse to process a request, unless the requester is prepared to refine the request to bring the search, retrieval and copying fees below the limit;
- The fee for internal review under Section 21 is now €30.00 (€10.00 for medical card holders and their dependents);
- The fee for appeals to the Information Commissioner under Section 22 is now €50.00 (€15.00 for medical card holders and their dependents).
The main functions of the Information Commissioner can be summarised as: –
- The review (on application) of the decisions of the public bodies in relation to FOI requests and where necessary, the making of binding, new decisions;
- The review of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 to ensure that public bodies comply with their provisions;
- The fostering an attitude of openness among public bodies by the encouragement of the voluntary publication of information above and beyond the minimum requirements of the Acts;
- The preparation and publication of commentaries on the practical operation of the Acts; and The publication of an Annual Report.
Data Protection Acts
The Data Protection Acts provide similar rights of access as the FOI Acts, the main difference being that the Data Protection Acts do not apply to records of deceased persons. As with the FOI Acts, these rights extend to an individual’s own personal records and in specific circumstances, to those of their children. There are exemptions provided for in the Acts, this means that there are specific circumstances when the requested information will not be released. If any of these exemptions are used to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained to you.
Data Protection is the safeguarding of the privacy rights of individuals in relation to the processing of personal data. An individual supplies information about themselves to many organisations, including the Galway & Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) in order to avail of services or satisfy obligations. For the purpose of Data Protection, such organisations or individuals who control the contents and use of personal data are known as Data Controllers.
Galway & Roscommon Education and Training Board, as a Data Controller, must adhere to the eight rules of Data Protection. The eight rules, which apply whether the information is held on a computer or in a manual form, are:
- Obtain and process information fairly;
- Keep it only for one or more specified, explicit and lawful purposes;
- Use and disclose it only in ways compatible with these purposes;
- Keep it safe and secure;
- Keep it accurate, complete and up-to-date;
- Ensure that it is adequate, relevant and not excessive;
- Retain it for no longer than is necessary for the purpose or purposes;
- Give a copy of his/her personal data to that individual upon request.
An individual must apply in writing and simply refer to the Data Protection Act. The application fee of €6.35 must accompany the request.
When to use the Data Protection Acts:
An individual may use either the Freedom of Information Acts or the Data Protection Acts to access personal information held by public bodies. However, the Data Protection Acts apply only to an individual’s own personal information and requires an application fee of €6.35. Also, the Data Protection Acts apply to all holders of personal information, not just public bodies.
Entitlements under the Data Protection Acts:
- A decision will, in normal circumstances, issue within 40 days of receipt of your request;
- Details of your entitlement to complain to the Data Protection Commissioner will be included in the decision letter.
Access to Information
To make an access request under the Data Protection Acts, a request must be submitted in writing. The request should describe the records sought in the greatest detail possible to enable GRETB to identify the relevant records. There may be a fee of €6.35 for an application under Data Protection.
You may find the links below of use:
|Freedom of Information Act, 2014|