Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (No. 13 of 1997) and Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act, 2003 (No. 9 of 2003)
The Freedom of Information Act introduced on 21 April 1998, provides every person with the following legal rights:
- The right to access official records held by Government Departments or other public bodies listed in the Act;
- The right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
- The right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them.
These rights mean that from 21 April, 1998 people can seek access to personal information held on them no matter when the information was created, and to other records created after 21 April, 1998.
The Freedom of Information Act applies to the National Archives as an agency within the ambit of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Sections 15 and 16 of the Act require the preparation and publication of a reference book whereby members of the public may inform themselves about FOI and its application to government departments and bodies, for example how FOI operates, how requests may be made, whether there is a charge etc. The National Archives currently makes information available to the public in relation to its functions, holdings and services as a matter of routine. Such information will continue to be available informally without the need to use the Freedom of Information Act.