What is Freedom of Information?

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 allows the public to request and obtain records held by a wide range of public bodies including RTÉ. This access, as stated in the Act, should be to the ‘greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy’. It gives every person;

  • The right to access records held by RTÉ
  • The right to have personal information about them and held by RTÉ corrected or updated where the information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
  • The right to be given reasons for decisions taken by RTÉ that affect them.

The Act means that records created after April 21st, 1998 and held by RTÉ can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Personal information can be requested regardless of when it was created. A record is effectively defined in the Act as something that can be read, viewed or listened to.

The work of some public bodies is entirely subject to FOI while for others only some of their functions can be subject to FOI requests. RTÉ is one of the latter. Statutory Instrument 115/2000 [click here] defines the functions of the national broadcaster which come within the scope of the legislation.

These are management, administration, finance, commercial, communications and the making of contracts. Schedule 3 of the SI limits the scope of the legislation and according to the Explanatory Note the Freedom of Information Act only applies to ‘non-programme related functions’.

However, as the national broadcaster RTÉ is committed to being as open and transparent as possible and regularly releases information – including programmes details – when it is possible to do so.

It is important to note that the Freedom of Information Act allows for access to records and not necessarily information. Requests that are a series of questions may be refused on the grounds that they are not valid.

Further information on Freedom of Information in Ireland is available by clicking on the following links:

FOI Central Policy Unit

Office of the Information Commissioner