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// Call to cut cost of freedom of information request
A REDUCTION in the cost of freedom of information requests was demanded by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny. Mr Kenny said the 10,704 requests received by the Office of the Information Commissioner last year represented a 42 per cent decrease, or 7,739, on 2003.
"The reason given was the introduction of fees," said Mr Kenny.
Mr Kenny said the commissioner had requested, on a number of occasions, that the scale and structure of fees be reviewed.
Among eight comparable jurisdictions, Ireland was one of only two that charged for freedom of information appeals. The charge in Ontario, Canada, was €16, compared to the Irish fee of €150.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the Minister for Finance was responsible for the freedom of information service. There was no charge for personal information, he added.
"The upfront fee is €15 and the internal review fee is €75.
"A review by the commissioner costs €150, with reduced fees for persons on limited means," Mr Cowen added. "The regulation allows for a refund in the case of a request being withdrawn."
The Minister for Finance, he said, believed that the fees would result in a greater appreciation of the service and more considered and responsible use of the Act.
"The fact that fees are being charged . . . ensures that people when requesting information are judicious in the trawl and the work they ask of the service in the provision of that information," he said.
© 2008 The Irish Times