Destroying FoI

Not content with attacking the pay and conditions of workers in the centenary year of the 1913 Lockout, Brendan Howlin is now attempting to completely undermine the Freedom of Information Act.

Prior to the general election, both Labour and Fine Gael had promised to restore the Act, removing the hindrances introduced over time by Fianna Fáil.

Now it seems it actually suits them to gut the Act, making it effectively impossible to use it for in-depth investigative journalism.

My own experience of using the Act, as a member of the great unwashed public, is that you really have to know what you’re looking for, and where is the best place to put your question, because you won’t be helped.  In the past, I’ve gotten about 500 pages from one government department, giving all the information that had been requested, for no charge, when the agency that actually “owned” the information had quoted a prohibitive cost for obtaining the same information.

I’m not a journalist, my livelihood doesn’t depend on this.  But I am a citizen, and the society I live in is best served with a strong, affordable FOI Act.

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