Access to Information

Although the Government has seriously weakened the Freedom of
Information Act, there are other important remedies available to the
public, especially in the area of environmental information. 
Ireland has signed up to the Aarhus Convention on Access to
Information,Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to
Justice in Environmental Matters. ( Unfortunately
the government has not yet ratified the Convention so it is not in
force here.

However, the European Union has taken action to implement the Aarhus
Convention.  (  In
particular, it has implemented two Directives:

  • Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
    of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and
    repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC, and
  • Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the
    Council of 26 May 2003 providing for public participation in respect of
    the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the
    environment and amending with regard to public participation and access
    to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC

Both of these Directives should have been implemented in Ireland already – in February and June 2005. #

However, you can still rely on the information Directive and on the
existing Irish Regulations , SI 125 of 1998
( which provide that all public authorities must make environmental information available (with certain limited exemptions). Unlike the Freedom of Information Act, there is no charge for making a request for this information.

Additionally, if there is any way in which I can help you get
information, by putting down questions at Council meetings or if you
would like a Green Party TD to put down questions in the Dáil, please
let me know.