Seanad to debate Labour Freedom of Information Bill
Labour Senators will introduce the party’s the Freedom of Information Bill in the Senate next Wednesday during Labour Party Private Members Time.
Senator White said: “This Bill is designed to extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to a number of key bodies including the Garda Siochana and to repeal the regime of charges for access to information introduced by the Fianna Fail/PD government in 2003.
“The Freedom of Information legislation enacted by the Rainbow government was grounded in the belief that public bodies must be accountable to the ordinary public they are there to serve and that accountability requires openness. Freedom of information overturns the presumption of official secrecy set out in the Official Secrets Act and replaces it with the legal presumption that the public has a right to know.
Senator Hannigan said: “Freedom of information, everywhere it has been introduced, has brought about more open government and better administration of public services. Doing business in the open is the best guarantee of efficiency.
“However, this government has always been hostile the concept of freedom of information and has done its best to undermine the original Act by introducing legislation in 2003 that severely restricted categories of information that could be applied for and by imposing a series of heavy charges designed to discourage people from using the Act.
“This Bill seeks to undo some of that damage and to extend the scope of the Act to key public bodies that this government has so far refused to have included.”