Friday, 6 July 2012
Freedom of Information (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012: Second Stage
Robert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
I compliment Deputy Sean Fleming on introducing this important legislation. Previous speakers argued that freedom of information has been stifled in recent years. However, the report from the Information Commissioner on 2011 shows an increase of 8% in the number of freedom of information requests from 2010 to 2011 when 16,500 requests were made. Figures for the years 2009 to 2011 show a 95% increase in the number of freedom of information requests submitted to the Department of Social Protection. As with everything, however, the freedom of information legislation can be improved and the Bill before us seeks to do so.
It is important to hold to account all State bodies as well as non-statutory bodies in receipt of State funding, all of which should come within the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. People should be able to elicit any information they may require from public organisations.
I am pleased to note the masters of spin in the Government will not oppose the Bill. I hope, however, this is not being done for the optics and the Bill will not be left on a shelf indefinitely. Friday morning sittings, while welcome, are also all about optics. The Minister of State is correct that they provide additional time and allow Opposition Deputies to introduce legislation but it would be preferable to sit later on Thursdays or commence sittings earlier on Tuesdays.