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Freedom of Information

What is Freedom of Information-FOI?

The new Freedom of Information Act 2014 came into effect on 14th October 2014. The State Examinations Commission (SEC) is subject to the Act from the 14th April 2015.

The Freedom of Information Acts assert the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.

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.

 
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 a FOI Request to the SEC?

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

Address:

Freedom of Information
Corporate Affairs Division
State Examinations Commission
Cornamaddy
Athlone
Co Westmeath
N37 TP65

Email: FOI@examinations.ie

Tel: 090 644 2851

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 order to enable the SEC to identify the records you require and the timeframe which applies to your request and;

  • Include a telephone number or e-mail address and your postal address; this will assist should the SEC need to contact you

  • In what format you wish to receive any records released (e.g. photocopies)

Alternatively, you may download the Application Form available on this website and submit this to the FOI Officer at the above address. A response will be given no later than 4 weeks upon receipt of Request.

The SEC will acknowledge receipt of your request in writing within 10 working days. The acknowledgement letter will also provide you with the name and contact details of the person who will be making the decision in relation to your request and will advise you when you can expect to receive this decision.

 
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 SEC irrespective of when created

  • all other records created after 21st April 2008

When seeking personal information, you will be required to prove your identity and will be requested to provide a copy of your Driving License, Passport or other form of identification. Please include a copy of this identification with any personal information FOI requests

However, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information in some circumstances. These are set out in the Act. Requests may also be refused if they are deemed too voluminous or unclear but the SEC 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 SEC 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.  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 Unit for bank details.  A list of relevant fees is set out below:

List of Fees

  • There is 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 with the HSE.

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

You may appeal any decision issued by the SEC by writing to Freedom of Information, Corporate Affairs Division, State Examinations Commission, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, N37 TP65 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 SEC 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.

Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689

Locall: 1890 22 30 30

Fax: +353 (1) 639 5674

E-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 the staff in the FOI Unit 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 SEC?

No. The SEC routinely makes information available to the public through our website www.examinations.ie; circulars; publications; and in response to enquiries. This will continue.

 
Where can I get more information on FOI?

Freedom of Information
Corporate Affairs Division
State Examinations Commission
Cornamaddy
Athlone
Co. Westmeath
N37 TP65

Tel: +353 (90) 644 2851

Fax: +353 (90) 644 2896

Email: FOI@examinations.ie

The Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

Tel: +353 (1) 639 5689

Locall: 1890 253 238

Fax: +353 (1) 639 5674

E-mail: info@oic.gov.ie

More comprehensive information on Freedom of Information, including the text of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is available at www.foi.gov.ie.

 
State Examinations Commission, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, N37 TP65. Tel: 090-644 2700 Fax: 090-644 2744 Email us: Click here link to the Contact Form
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