The 1997 Freedom of Information Act marked a significant advance towards more open government, placing an obligation on public bodies to make information available to the public.
Before that, it was all but impossible for anyone to get basic information on issues like health or social welfare entitlements. Getting access to Cabinet papers and the like was unthinkable.
It was welcomed by the public but regarded with suspicion by those in power. It was first curtailed by the previous government in 2003 and now looks like being emasculated further by the current administration.
Brendan Howlin, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, has indicated the introduction of a tortuous process that will add to the cost and effort to gain access to records. This is despite a promise in the Coalition programme for government to restore the act to its former glory.
Another day — another U-turn.
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