A review into Ireland’s freedom of information laws will be completed by the middle of 2022, the Government has said.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath on Friday published a road map for a review into the country’s freedom of information legislation.
Questions were asked over the summer about the Government’s handling of freedom of information requests following the Katherine Zappone controversy, after Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney admitted to deleting text messages he exchanged with Leo Varadkar from his phone before Freedom of Information requests were submitted by journalists.
This review provides a forum to reflect on the successes of the current system as well the challenges and issues that have arisen in practiceMichael McGrath
A series of requests seeking copies of correspondence between the pair were made by reporters and politicians after the appointment of Ms Zappone to the UN special envoy role was agreed by Cabinet in July.
Mr Varadkar said at the time that there should be a “refresh” of Ireland’s freedom of information law.
The road map document indicates that a report into the law will be submitted to Mr McGrath by the middle of 2022, before being published.
It states: “The review provides an opportunity to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the current FOI regime and to take account of relevant domestic and international developments.”
“A report will be published, which will make recommendations for improvements to the system, including by amending the legislation if required.”
Mr McGrath described the road map as “ambitious”.
He said: “The review will be an open, collaborative process, with an invitation for all interested stakeholders to make their voices heard.”
“Transparency is a core principle of public administration. This review provides a forum to reflect on the successes of the current system as well the challenges and issues that have arisen in practice.”
The department plans to hold a public consultation on the legislation later this year, while also launching a project to estimate how much freedom of information legislation costs the state.