FAQs on Freedom of Information - Irish Blood Transfusion Service

FAQs on Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information (FOI) questions answered here

What is FOI?

The FOI Act 2014 provides that every person has the following legal rights:

  • the right to access official records held by Government Departments and all public bodies that conform to the provisions of Section 6 of the Act;
  • the right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
  • the right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them.

These rights mean that from a certain date (21 April, 1998 in respect of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service),  people can seek access to personal information held on them no matter when the information was created, and to other records created after 21 April, 1998.

How does FOI work?

The Act requires public bodies to respond to requests from the public for information they hold. In most cases, public bodies must give their decision on a request within 4 weeks of receiving it.

How can I make an FOI Request?

FOI requests should be addressed to the FOI Office of the body holding the records.

How can I make a FOI Request to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service?

You should send a request either, in writing or by email, to:

Freedom of Information National Blood Centre Irish Blood Transfusion Service James’s Street Dublin 8 D08 NH5R

Tel: +353 (1) 4322862

E-mail: trish.mcnally@ibts.ie

Your request should include the following:

  • A statement that the request is being made under the FOI Act;
  • As much information as possible about the records being sought;
  • In what format you wish to receive any records released (e.g. photocopies, electronic format)

Can I get access to any information that I seek?

The following records come within the scope of the FOI Acts:

  • all records relating to personal information held by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service irrespective of when they were created
  • all other records created from the commencement of the FOI Act (21 April 1998)
  • any records necessary to the understanding of a current record even if created prior to 21 April 1998

However, in order to allow the organisation’s business to be properly conducted, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information in some circumstances. These are set out in the Act. Among the key exemptions are records relating to:

  • information obtained in confidence,
  • confidential and commercially sensitive information,
  • personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request).

Requests may also be refused if they are deemed too voluminous or unclear but the organisation is obliged to assist the requester in trying to overcome this.

Is there a charge for getting information under the FOI Act?

There is no charge for submitting a request. In respect of non-personal requests, other charges may be applied for the time spent finding records and for any reproduction costs incurred by the IBTS in providing you with the material requested (search, retrieval and copying charges). Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is less than €101, no fee is charged.  Search and retrieval is charged at €20 per hour where the cost exceeds €101.Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €500 but less than €700, a maximum charge of €500 applies.  Where the cost of search, retrieval and copying is greater than €700, the body can refuse to process the request.   Details of actual charges relating to your request will be notified to you in writing.  Payment should be made by way of Electronic Funds Transfer. Please contact the FOI Officer for bank details.  A list of relevant fees is set out below:

List of Fees

  • There s no charge for submitting a request
  • Search and Retrieval – €20 per hour (for requests that exceed the €100 minimum in terms of search, retrieval and copying), subject to the ceilings mentioned above.
  • €0.04 per sheet for a photocopy
  • Internal review fee €30 (€10 for medical card holders)
  • Appeal to the Information Commissioner €50 (€15 for medical card holders)

Notes:

  1. There is no charge if the records concerned contain only personal information relating to the applicant, unless there are a significant number of records.
  2.  If you are claiming a reduced application fee, the request must be accompanied by the Medical Card registration number and your consent to the verification of these details.
  3. A full list of fees is available on request.

What if I am not satisfied with the decision on my FOI request?

You may appeal any decision issued by the IBTS by writing to the Freedom of Information Office, Irish Blood Transfusion Service, National Blood Centre, James’s Street, Dublin 8 D08 NH5R seeking an Internal Review of the matter. A fee of €30 (€10 for medical card holders) may apply for such an appeal. There is no fee for internal review applications concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.

You should make your appeal within 4 weeks from the date of response (although late appeals may be permitted in certain circumstances).The appeal will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by a more senior member of staff of the IBTS and a decision will be communicated to you within 3 weeks.

What if I am not satisfied with the decision on internal review?

You may appeal the decision within six months by writing to the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you make an appeal the Information Commissioner will fully investigate and consider the matter and issue a fresh decision.

All appeals should be addressed to:

The Information Commissioner,18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.D02 HE97

Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689Locall: 1890 22 30 30E-mail: info@oic.ie

A fee of €50 (€15 for medical card holders) may apply for such an application. Again, there is no fee for appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner concerning only personal information relating to oneself or in relation to a decision to impose a fee or deposit.

Can I get help in making a request?

Yes. If you require any help, contact the FOI Office and they will be happy to assist you in the formulation of your request.

Do I need to make a FOI request to get information from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service?

 No. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service routinely makes information available to the public through information leaflets, publications and responses to queries. This will continue.  FOI provides an additional source of information by facilitating access to records not routinely made available.