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McDonald welcomes withdrawal of fee related amendments to FOI legislation

13 November, 2013 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD has this evening welcomed the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reforms decision to withdraw the controversial fee related amendments to FOI legislation currently being considered by an Oireachtas select Committee.

The Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson said:

“I welcome Brendan Howlin’s decision to withdraw his eleventh hour amendments to the Freedom of Information legislation currently being considered by the Public Expenditure and Reform select committee.

“Whilst the Minister has stated his intent to redraft and submit the amendments in advance of report stage of the legislation it is my expectation that he and his senior officials will now take some time to consider the serious concerns raised by the NUJ, Transparency International and many other experts in this field.

“The facts speak for themselves. The introduction of fees, particularly upfront fees has created a barrier to accessing FOI and this is simply not acceptable. Brendan Howlin made big promises on entering government creating an expectation that he would champion an open government agenda.

“Increasing FOI fees take Ireland further away from international best practice. In 2008 the OECD called on the government to reduce barriers to public information by making all requests under FOI free. The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, the Group of States against corruption, recommended the abolition of upfront fees that same year. During recent Open Government Partnership consultations with civic society participants unanimously called for Freedom of Information fees to be dropped.”

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