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What bodies are covered by FOI?

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, all bodies that conform to the definition in Section 6(1) of the Act are subject to FOI, unless they are specifically exempt, in whole or in part, either in Section 42 or in Schedule 1 of the Act. The definition is as follows:

6. (1) Subject to this section, each of the following shall be a public body for the purposes of this Act:

(a) a Department of State;

(b) an entity established by or under any enactment (other than the Companies Acts);

(c) any other entity established (other than under the Companies Acts) or appointed by the Government or a Minister of the Government, including an entity established (other than under the Companies Acts) by a Minister of the Government under any scheme;

(d) a company (within the meaning of the Companies Acts) a majority of the shares in which are held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government;

(e) a subsidiary (within the meaning of the Companies Acts) of a company to which paragraph (d) relates;

(f) an entity (other than a subsidiary to which paragraph (e) relates) that is directly or indirectly controlled by an entity to which paragraph (b), (c), (d) or (e) relates;

(g) a higher education institution in receipt of public funding;

(h) notwithstanding the repeal of the Act of 1997 by section 5 , and subject to this Act, any entity that was a public body (including bodies or elements of bodies prescribed as such) within the meaning of the Act of 1997 on the enactment of this Act.

The types of bodies that are subject to FOI under the Act, in whole or in part, are as follows:

  • Governments Departments and agencies under the remit of Government Departments, such as Bord Iascaigh Mhara under the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Higher Education Authority under the Department of Education and Skills and the Environmental Protection Agency under the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
  • An Garda Siochana
  • Local Authorities
  • Education and Training Boards
  • Health Service Executive
  • Voluntary Hospitals
  • Universities and other higher education institutions
  • Regulators, such as the Commission for Energy Regulation, the Commission for Communications Regulation
  • National Treasury Management Authority and its subsidiary bodies
  • Central Bank of Ireland
  • Refugee and asylum seekers bodies, such as the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Board;
  • Commercial State Companies operating in a monopoly market, such as Irish Water, Irish Rail and the energy network functions of ESB, EirGrid and Ervia.

In the majority of cases, where a body was not subject to FOI under the FOI Act 1997 but is subject to FOI under the 2014 Act, the Act applied to that body from 14 April 2015 or on such later day, not later than 12 months from enactment, as the Minister may by order appoint. The Minister made an Order on 25 March 2015 (S.I. 103 of 2015) to provide that An Garda Siochana, Gaslink Independent Systems Operator Ltd (formerly Bord Gais Networks), EirGrid plc, ESB Networks Limited and Iarnród Eireann would become subject to FOI on 14 October 2015, rather than on 14 April 2015.

The FOI Act also provides, at Section 7, for the extension of FOI to non-public bodies which are significantly funded by the State. Any such bodies that were subject to FOI under the 1997 Act will remain subject to FOI under the 2014 Act. The Minister may, by order, provide for FOI to apply to other non-public bodies which are significantly funded by the State in due course. This will be noted on this website.