The Freedom of Information Bill 2013 completed its passage through the Oireachtas on 2 October. Whilst the Seanad did propose numerous amendments, none were accepted; in fact, the majority were, following debate, withdrawn or not moved.
Therefore, the Bill, which will now be forwarded to the President to be signed into law, is in the same terms as that which was passed by Dáil Éireann on 16 July 2014. According to the Government News Service yesterday evening, it is expected that the legislation will be on the Statute Book by mid-October of this year.
The Bill provides that it will come into operation on enactment. Section 1 of the Bill does, however, stagger the operation of certain aspects, as follows:
For all bodies which are already subject to FOI under the current FOI Acts, the Bill will take effect immediately on enactment;
For all public bodies coming under FOI for the first time, the Bill will take effect 6 months from enactment; and
For all FOI bodies, the requirement in section 8 to publish a “publication scheme”, will take effect 12 months from enactment, or earlier by Ministerial Order.
Aside from the substantive changes introduced, from a practical perspective, the Bill is also very different structurally to the current FOI Acts, with completely new numbering and a fresh lay-out.
For more information, please contact a member of our Public & Administrative Law team listed below.