20th of September 2000
Chair: Mr Kevin Cardiff, CPU, Department of Finance
Secretary: Ms Annette Murray, CPU, Department of Finance
Attendance: As per Appendix A
1. Minutes of Previous meeting
The minutes of the previous meeting on 27 June were agreed.
2. FOI Developments
2.1 Local Authority Sector
The main issues raised were training for existing and new FOI officers and decision makers and clarifying timescales under FOI when dealing with requests.
2.2 Health Sector
The main points raised were
Training, which is ongoing.
Section 28(7) – concerns about the definition of health professional and the setting up a register of such workers.
Status of Environmental Health Office reports given exemptions in EU Food Hygiene Regulations. Mr Cardiff said to write to CPU in this regard.
Section 15 – looking at redrafting.
Conference of Voluntary Bodies held in Portaoise in July: FOI networks (with Health Board participation) were set up for scheduled and non-scheduled bodies in the Intellectual Disability sector. Mr Cardiff welcomed the establishment of the FOI networks and the collaboration with the Health Boards.
2.3 Voluntary Health Sector
The main issue raised by Ms Finola Fahy, Voluntary Agencies, was the lack of a clear records retention and destruction policy. Mr Lillis pointed out that there is a policy on records retention in the Health Boards which has not yet been implemented, and he undertook to forward the policy document to the CPU.
The main issues raised by Ms Magliocco, National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, were
The recent setting-up of seven local networks in the Intellectual Disability sector, and
The problems with Section 6 (9) agencies being under contract to Health Boards and thereby subject to FOI. Mr Michael Lillis of the Southern Health Board also discussed this topic.
2.4 Civil Service User Network
Ms Murray reported from the recent meetings of the network.
2.5 Enterprise Bodies
The main issues raised by this sector were:
The impending implementation date of 21 October for this sector.
Section 15 & 16 manuals: a discussion followed about whether Section 16 documents in particular could be improved and made more user-friendly. Mr Cardiff emphasised that where summaries of rules/precedents etc. are given that the public should have easy access to the actual rules.
Training; a presentation was given by Brian Fee of the Office of the Information Commissioner and a further presentation will be given by Maeve McDonagh to this sector next week.
2.6 Broadcasting/Cultural Bodies
The main issues raised by Mr Peter Feeney, were:
No major problems to report on IRTC and Arts Council.
The level of FOI business had quitened down considerably in RTE.
Concerns were expressed regarding the sensationalist way in which some newspapers are using FOI.. Mr Cardiff asked those present at the PSUN to catalogue cases of concern for the CPU as it would then be raised with the NUJ at the next Citizens' Advisory Group.
3. FOI and International Relations
A CPU note issued prior to the meeting on the issue of FOI & International Relations. Comments and queries from the group were invited.
4. Training and Related Issues
The main training issues were:
Decision making training involving CPU.
Seminar to be held on either 18 or 20 October on Third Party Consultations – date to be confirmed.
Train the Trainers Manual will be sent to all members of the group.
Comments on any concerns about the retention of external trainers and/or the availability of training were invited.
5. Legal Advices
Mr Fox summarised the recent legal advices received, specifically No. 243 – Assistant Secretary Bonus Scheme, No. 244 – Section 6(9) Regulations (SI No. 517) 1998, No. 245 – on the relationship between EU and national FOI rules, No. 246 – Section 8(5), No. 247 – consent from representatives of requesters and No. 248 regarding Section 17 and retrospection.
6. Information Commissioner Decisions
Ms Murray outlined the main issues arising from IC decisons nos. 98058 – the application of the public interest test to Section 26(1)(b) and 98060 – Section 24 & international relations.
7. Annual Report
Mr Cardiff thanked everyone who had made returns for the Annual Report which is now in an advanced stage of drafting.
8. Section 6(9)
Mr Fox clarified the position in relation to Section 6(9) following legal advice No. 244. Concerns were raised about the definition of contracts for services. The representatives from the Health Boards undertook to send in examples which the CPU would examine, in conjunction with the Attorney General's office, if necessary.
9. Progress on Regulations and Extension of the Act
Mr Fox outlined progress on proposed Regulations: (i) under the First Schedule to add a range of new environment, health, cultural, regulatory and social service bodies to the Act from 21 October and (ii) under section 28(7) to widen the definition of health professional. The CPU is still aiming for the date of 21 October and will be issuing a press release. The CPU also undertook to circulate a list of the bodies to which the Act is being extended.
Ms Cusack from the Pensions Board raised the general issue of outsourcing search and retrieval functions due to the large amount of time being spent on FOI.
Meeting of 20 September 2000
|John Heuston||National Council on Ageing and Older People|
|Vivian Geiran||Probation and Welfare Service|
|Gabriel Browne||Sligo County Council|
|Martin Walsh||Waterford County Council|
|Jim Gibbons||Kilkenny County Council|
|Audrey Cunningham||Comhairle na n-Ospideal|
|Bernadette Price||Food Safety Authority of Ireland|
|Caroline Coakley||Beaumont Hospital|
|Finola Fahy||Mater Hospital|
|Mary Orford||O D T R|
|Netta McGowan||Social Welfare Appeals Office|
|Bill Walsh||Patents Office|
|Chris Rudland||Mid Western Health Board|
|Michael Lillis||Southern Health Board|
|Ken Lillis||North Western Health Board|
|Lorraine McGrattan||Eastern Regional Health Authority|
|Donal Devery||Midland Health Board|
|Peter Feeney||R T E|
|Michelle Slattery||Irish Medicines Board|
|Patricia Keegan||National Social Work Qualifications Board|
|Louise Merrigan||Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs|
|Neil Cassidy||Meath County Council|
|Gerry Darcy||Companies Registration Office|
|Majella Byrne||Environmental Protection Agency|
|Gina Magliocco||National Federation of Voluntary Bodies|
Aidan Maher, Dublin Corporation