Access to Local Government Information in Ireland: Attitudes of Decision-Makers
Open Government: A Journal on Freedom of Information, 6 (6):1-20, (2010)
20 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2013
Date Written: July 1, 2010
This paper explores the attitudes of Irish local government FOI decision makers towards the operation of access to information legislation, in particular the Freedom of Information Act. It is based on the results of a survey of local government FOI decision makers which sought to ascertain their views on issues such as: the benefits, if any, that FOI and other access provisions bring to local government and to the public and the problems, if any, which such provisions are perceived to cause for the operations of local authorities. It also sought to address an issue of particular interest in the Irish local government context, namely the impact, if any, which access regimes have had on the use of elected members as go-betweens with regard to the interactions of individual members of the public with local authorities. The paper concludes that the advent of FOI has brought with it many benefits, not only for the public, but also for local authorities. While decision-makers see FOI as being to some extent burdensome, it has gained widespread acceptance amongst officials as an integral part of the machinery of local government. Problems arising in the administration of FOI in local government in Ireland appear to derive more from resource issues than from a lack of commitment to the aims of FOI on the part of local authority FOI decision makers or management.
Keywords: Freedom of Information, Access to information, Local Government, Transparency, Accountability
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