North/South Bodies Freedom of Information Code of Practice
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About the North/South Bodies
There are six North/South Implementation Bodies, created following the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, via a supplementary International Agreement between the British and Irish Governments signed on 8 March, 1999.
Due to their special status, these are not covered by the Irish or UK Freedom of Information Acts, instead they abide by a special Code of Practice run by the North/South Ministerial Council.
- Waterways Ireland
- Food Safety Promotion Board
- Trade and Business Development Body (InterTradeIreland): The promotion of trade and business on an all-island and cross-border basis.
- Special European Union Programmes Body
- The North/South Language Body, consisting of two agencies Foras na Gaeilge and Tha Boord o Ulster-Scotch
- Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission, will consist of the Loughs Agency and the Lights Agency (when the latter comes into being).
- Tourism Ireland Ltd (although not a North/South Body, this is also covered by the North/South FOI Code of Practice).
North/South Freedom of Information Code of Practice
- The Code of Practice is very similar to the UK Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Some of the key facts:
- Name and address must be provided. These can be pseudonyms and email addresses.
- Bodies must acknowledge requests within 5 working days
- Bodies must send information within 20 working days (35 days if large amounts of information requested, or if they need to consult 3rd parties, but they must tell you this within 20 days)
- Bodies must provide advice and assistance if this is required
- If the information being requested originates from a UK or Ireland public authority, then the Bodies are asked in the Code of Practice to consult with these prior to providing the information
- Fees can be charged, but only if >20 printed sheets need to be provided
- They should send you the information requested, or if they refuse give the reasons why, based on the Exemptions listed below. Those requiring a Public Interest Test should show the reasons for and against why information should not be provided.
- An internal review can be requested if they charge a fee, don't provide the information (eg Not Held or Exemption) or don't provide it in the format you asked for. Reviews should take no more than 15 working days.
- If the you disagree with the internal review, you can complain to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
These are split into 2 sections - absolute exemptions, or those subject to the Public Interest Test
- Absolute Exemptions listed in the Code:
- 1. Defence, security and international relations
- 2. Legal proceedings
- 3. Legal professional privilege
- 4. Personal information relating to a living individual
- 5. Information accessible to the applicant by other means
- 6. Statutory and other restrictions
- 7. Communications with Her Majesty the Queen or with the President of Ireland
- Other Exemptions listed in the code - these are subject to a Public Interest Test
- 1. Internal discussion and advice
- 2. Law enforcement
- 3. Personal information - deceased persons
- 4. Public safety
- 5. Economic affairs
- 6. Effective management of public services
- 7. Publication and pre-maturity in relation to publication
- 8. Research, statistics and analysis
- 9. Commercially sensitive information
- 10. Information held/obtained in confidence
- 11. The Environment