from RTE News Online
Colm O'Gorman of the 'One in Four' group, which represents those who were abused as children, has described the proposed changes in the Freedom of Information bill as 'severe'.
Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and Public Service, Mr O'Gorman said individuals will, as a result of the proposed changes, only be able to access files which directly contain information about them and not files which are relevant to their case.
He said, under the current legislation, access to relevant files is permitted and this access is essential for those who wish to validate traumatic childhood experiences.
Mr O'Gorman said people who were abused in childhood must be able to reclaim their stories and that the passing of the amendment would further silence the already isolated voices of children and adults who have been sexually abused
ICCL expresses concern over FoI amendments
Earlier this morning the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said that the proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information legislation would have a negative impact on the right of individuals to access information about themselves.
The Council's Director, Aisling Reidy, told a meeting of the Oireachtas Finance Committee that the amendments would cut off the individual's right of access, and leave them reliant on Government discretion.
In his submission to the Oireachtas Committee, ICCL Research Officer, Liam Herrick said they found it 'particularly unusual' that there had not been a proper consultation process about the legislation.
Mr Herrick added that the proposals clearly meant that some information that was currently available under FOI would now be excluded from release under the Act.
The Oireachtas Committee Chairman, Sean Fleming, pointed out that even if information was no longer covered by FOI, it could still be released by Government Ministers if they wished to do so. He added that 99% of the information released by Government was outside the Act.
However Aisling Reidy said that some information was released by Government because they knew it could be accessed under FOI, so there was no point trying to keep it secret. She warned that if the scope of the Act was rolled back, open government would be 'whittled down'.
Ms Reidy added that there had been a 'lot of anxiety' among individuals that information they were seeking might not now be released.
Independent TD Liam Twomey asked if the ICCL considered that this was bad legislation for civil liberties. Ms Reidy replied that if implemented, the amendments would have a 'detrimental impact on citizens'.Posted by Colm at March 19, 2003 04:40 PM