“…all information held by governments and governmental institutions is, in principle, public…”
– UNITED NATIONS resolution 59 of the General Assembly,
In other words Freedom of Information (FOI) IS VERY IMPORTANT and vital to ensure the transparent operation of government. The aim of this brief article is to encourage everyone to be confident and assertive in questioning our offices of state. If there is information you need to access or facts you need to uncover there is a process in place called “Freedom of Information” which provides a route to the data you need.
“Freedom of Information (FOI), or the right to information, can be defined as the right to access to information held by public bodies. It is an integral part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression.” Then the UN goes on to assert that: “FOI legislation reflects the fundamental premise that all information held by governments and governmental institutions is, in principle, public…“
EVERYONE is free to make an FOI request and the best place to find out how easy it is at A Beginners Guide To FOI (click on and follow the link) courtesy of one of Ireland’s greatest evangelists for Freedom of Information, an FOI celebrity on social media, journalist and academic, Ken Foxe. Ken is a lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology where he teaches in the School of Media. He also works as a freelance journalist specialising in Freedom of Information, data journalism, and investigative reporting and can be seen contributing everywhere from Broadsheet.ie to RTE (where he once worked).
When Ken Foxe’s name is uttered in government buildings senior civil servants cringe. He has been very active over the last 10 years in attempting to keep our governments accountable and transparent. Also, he has influenced many individuals and organisations to empower themselves and his online presence provides crucial information to allow citizens to protect their rights. He is the author of two books ‘Snouts in the Trough: Politicians & Their Expenses‘ and ‘Revenge‘, a true crime book. He was winner of the TV3 Story of the Year Award for 2009 following a series of newspaper stories about political expenses, which led to the resignation of then Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue. He has a particular interest and expertise in the use of Freedom of Information and data for investigative reporting.
You will find lots more of Ken’s invaluable work on KenFoxe.com, TheStory.ie and on RightToKnow.ie of which he is a founder and director along with Gavin Sheridan (another FOI ledgebag). Ken is very active on Twitter where he posts as @kenfoxe – some say he infests Twitter. Certainly it is known that government officials break out in rashes or take to the bed when his name is mentioned in correspondence.
There is plenty of assistance available so don’t be reticent or shy if you need to FOI. A colleague of Ken Foxe in @RightToKnowIE and also, a renowned FOI guru, is solicitor Fred Logue. His interview with the @EchoChambersPod is an eye opener about government transparency, or more accurately, lack of transparency and can be heard on Fred Logue #RightToKnow . Do give it a listen, check out RightToKnow.ie, follow them on Twitter at @RightToKnowIE .
Freedom of Information is a right, is easy to do, should not be expensive so remember…
Don’t be shy – Send an FOI
The absolute beginner's guide to using Freedom of Information in Ireland: written for members of the public & journalists that have never used it. Feedback welcome: https://t.co/UW6Yl4iu1e pic.twitter.com/HQbE7JUjBm
— Ken Foxe (@kenfoxe) November 9, 2017
Ken Foxe on Twitter