Judgment in MCENR vs Information Commissioner

Below is the judgment delivered today in MCENR vs Information Commissioner (with eNet and Gavin Sheridan as notice parties). Some time ago we sought the contract between the Department of Communications and eNet, in relation to the managing and promotion of the Metropolitan Area Networks built around the country. The department refused our request, so we appealed ultimately to the Information Commissioner, who ultimately found in our favour (worth reading the whole decision)

The Department disagreed with the decision and so appealed to the High Court, arguing that the Commissioner had erred in law by ordering the release of the bulk of the contract.

There was a two day hearing earlier this year. I was represented by FPLogue Solicitors and John Kenny BL.

The judge dismissed the appeal, as outlined here:

Clarion report on Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

For the record, here is the Clarion audit on QQI, as reported recently by the Sunday Times:

A quango that regulates further and higher education qualifications has an organisational structure that is “not fit for purpose”, abnormal levels of conflict and distrust among staff, and a management team that is lacking in expertise, an audit has found.

The highly critical assessment of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) was made by Clarion, a consultancy firm commissioned by the Department of Education to review the regulator.

Thanks to the Sunday Times for sharing the document.

http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3516009-Clarion-Organisational-Review-of-QQI-Final.html

Minister for Finance Diary 2016

Part of an ongoing process. This is the diary of Finance Minister Michael Noonan for the year 2016. We are also pleased to see the Department has started to routinely publish the Minister’s diary. This brings us to 19 full year of Ministerial diaries, the largest resource available.

Previously:

Minister for Finance diary 2015
Minister for Finance diary 2014
Minister for Finance diary 2013
Minister for Finance diary 2012
Minister for Finance diary 2011
Minister for Finance diary 2010
Minister for Finance diary 2009
Minister for Finance diary 2008
Minister for Finance diary 2007
Minister for Finance diary 2006
Minister for Finance diary 2005
Minister for Finance diary 2004
Minister for Finance diary 2003
Minister for Finance diary 2002
Minister for Finance diary 2001
Minister for Finance diary 2000
Minister for Finance diary 1999
Minister for Finance diary 1998

Taoiseach’s appointments diary 2016

Part of an ongoing process. This is the Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s appointments diary for 2016.

In relation to the Taoiseach’s diary, items marked A, B, and C relate as follows: (i) Entries marked ‘A’ are being withheld as they relate to personal information as defined in Section 2 of the Act and are exempt under Section 37 (1) of the Act; which provides for the witholding of any record which would involve the disclosure of personal information; (ii) Entries marked ‘B’ relate to the functions of the Taoiseach as a member of a political party and as such are exempt records as defined in Section 2 of the Act, and (iii) Entries marked ‘C’ are being withheld under Section 33 (1), Security, Defence & International Relations.

Previously:
Taoiseach’s Diary 2015
Taoiseach’s Diary 2014
Taoiseach’s Diary 2013
Taoiseach’s Diary 2012
Taoiseach’s Diary 2011
Taoiseach’s Diary 2010
Taoiseach’s Diary 2009
Taoiseach’s Diary 2008
Taoiseach’s Diary 2007
Taoiseach’s Diary 2006
Taoiseach’s Diary 2005
Taoiseach’s Diary 2004
Taoiseach’s Diary 2003
Taoiseach’s Diary 2002
Taoiseach’s Diary 2001
Taoiseach’s Diary 2000
Taoiseach’s Diary 1999
Taoiseach’s Diary 1998

Commissioner orders An Garda Siochana to release more records

(Thestory.ie/Right To Know is a not-for-profit company that runs on public donations, please consider donating below)

This time last year we sought certain records from An Garda Siochana. These included several audits that were carried out (we knew of audits because we had earlier sought the audit log). AGS refused to release most of the records we sought. This is what we sought:

1) The following 2014 audit reports:

Audit of NBCI
Expenditure review 2013 Vehicle Maintenance Contract
Expenditure review 2014 GoSafe Camera Contract
Audit Mayo Division
Review Audit Mayo

2) The following 2013 audit reports:

Audit of procurement
Audit of the Serious Crime Review Team following Allegations of Financial Irregularities
Audit of the Offices of the Regional Assistant Commissioners

3) The following 2012 audit reports:

Audit of Compensation Claims
Audit of Controls in the Fixed Charge Penalty Office
Audit of Tranman System
Review of CCTV systems

We appealed to the Information Commissioner, who has now ruled on the issue. You can read the full decision here.

The Commissioner has directed release of large numbers of records, including portions of documents that were previously redacted. We will publish all records upon release.

If you support our work, please subscribe:

Michael Noonan’s diary Jan – Jun 2016

Part of an ongoing process. This is the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s diary for January to June 2016.

Previously:

Minister for Finance diary 2015
Minister for Finance diary 2014
Minister for Finance diary 2013
Minister for Finance diary 2012
Minister for Finance diary 2011
Minister for Finance diary 2010
Minister for Finance diary 2009
Minister for Finance diary 2008
Minister for Finance diary 2007
Minister for Finance diary 2006
Minister for Finance diary 2005
Minister for Finance diary 2004
Minister for Finance diary 2003
Minister for Finance diary 2002
Minister for Finance diary 2001
Minister for Finance diary 2000
Minister for Finance diary 1999
Minister for Finance diary 1998

Representations received by Finance

This is a log of representations received by the Department/Minister for Finance from January to May 2016. Representation, or correspondence logs, are interesting to see how a Minister or Department is interacting with lobby groups, politicians, or members of the public. Most of the redactions are for mobile telephone numbers (ie personal information).

Why does the IDA want lower income taxes?

[Cross posted from Right To Know]

Earlier this year a newspaper report indicated that the IDA was lobbying against higher income taxes claiming that high income tax was making it difficult to attract foreign investment and was hitting job creation.

In August last year we submitted an FOI request looking for the analysis to back up these claims and all records of any lobbying in respect of income tax and social security rates in Ireland.

The IDA said that it continually analyses personal taxation and social security and how it influences FDI in Ireland and pointed to various methods including a 2015 survey by KPMG, a report from the Tax Institute and engagements with stakeholders, clients and staff. Specifically IDA undertook research in 2016 to identify reasons why some companies who considered Ireland chose to go elsewhere. According to the IDA, personal tax was among the reasons why they did not choose Ireland.

However, none of the underlying records were identified or released.

All IDA provided were redacted copies of 2017 pre-budget submissions calling on the government to reduce the top rate of income tax from 52% to below 50% and to set out a road map of income tax reductions up to 2020.

Tax rates are a big public interest issue. Taxes are used to fund public services (including the IDA it must be noted). With lower tax rates there must be an objective analysis of the trade-offs that are being made. While nobody necessarily wants to pay more tax – a public body such as the IDA would be expected to be sensitive to the bigger issues at play when it calls for tax cuts. In particular there must be a clear public benefit based on objective analysis so that the IDA position is substantially more than mere lobbying on behalf of big business.

We believe that the IDA must disclose its tax analysis and identify the interests that are driving it to intervene in the public debate over tax rates. To that end we are not satisfied that so much information has been withheld and have now filed an application with the Information Commissioner to review the IDA’s decision to keep the bulk of its information supporting its position on lower taxes from public scrutiny.

The Information Commissioner has invited us to make a submission in early January and we expect him to make a decision shortly after that.

We will keep you posted.

Here is IDA’s response: