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‘I’m hiding nothing’ – President Higgins on possibility of his office being included under Freedom of Information legislation


President Michael D Higgins has said he is “hiding nothing” when asked about the possibility of his office being included in upcoming reform of Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation.

he Government announced in June that it will review FOI legislation. However, the existing legislation was put under the spotlight after Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney deleted text messages relating to the botched appointment of Katherine Zappone as a UN special envoy.

Currently, the Office of the President is exempt from FOI requests, as is An Garda Siochána in most circumstances.

Mr Higgins said “the more information you give, the better”.

“As far as I am concerned, the approach I am taking and I am into my second term, I have always followed the view that the more information you give the better it is and that’s my attitude.

“I’m hiding nothing,” he added.

He also said the archives of his “very early predecessors” were not available and he sent them all to the National Archives Office to be published.

Mr Higgins added that “a decision in relation to FOI is a matter for Government”.

Seamus Dooley of the National Union of Journalists has previously backed the inclusion of the President’s Office under FOI legislation.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that a memo on the review of FOI will be brought before Government “very shortly”.

“The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is bringing forward to the Government a memorandum in respect of a review of the Freedom of Information Act and indicated that during the summer,” he said.

“That will come before the Government very shortly, perhaps next week, in respect of the broader operation and working of the Act.”

Junior Minister at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Ossian Smyth said last week that “consultation” on the review will take place later this year and this will continue into 2022.

 

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