Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, called on Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath to work with her to fix the crisis in FOI.
Teachta Farrell has been given leave to introduce her own Freedom of Information (Amendment) bill when the Dáil resumes.
Teachta Farrell said:
“We have see much negative commentary in recent days over the performance of our FOI regime, and the lack of accountability for those who are failing in their obligations under the act. It hasn’t been just journalists and transparency campaigners who have voiced concerns, even the Taoiseach himself spoke out. That’s why I find it so peculiar that Minister McGrath seems to have said nothing at all.
“Only two months ago he told us the regime was ‘robust and performing well’. Is this still his contention? Because if so, that would seem to place him in a minority of one. I’m aware that the Minister previously launched a review, but why do we need to wait for the review to tell us something that we already know? It’s time for action.
“FOI is fundamental to democracy, media and activism, it is not something that anyone should play politics with. It’s not a left versus right issue.
“If the Minister has indeed changed his view in light of recent events, and would like to work constructively with me to fix the crisis in FOI, then I would be only too happy to do so.
“My bill is ready to go and I would happy to accept government amendments to this provided they are made in the spirit of reforming FOI for the better.
“I would also like to add, that I’m happy to hear any constructive proposals from journalists and transparency campaigners, many of whom have expressed positive recommendations on social media in recent days. Let’s make this a collaborative effort because a well-functioning FOI regime benefits all of us.”