Freedom of Information, FOI, Freedom of Information publication scheme april 2015,

Freedom of Information

The Registry of Friendly Societies (RFS) is prescribed under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. Information about the RFS and the FOI Act are stated below under six different headings:

  • Information about the FOI Body
  • Services Provided or to be provided to the Public
  • Decision Making process for major policy proposals
  • Financial information
  • Procurement
  • FOI Disclosure log and Other information to be Published Routinely.

Please note that where requests for information are received under the Act, there is a presumption of release unless specific exemptions apply. Even where specific exemptions may be deemed to apply, consideration must be given to whether it is in the public interest to release the records. Therefore, when submitting non-statutory submissions to the RFS it should be borne in mind that any records could potentially be released by the RFS.

Under the FOI Act anyone is entitled to apply for access to information not otherwise publicly available. Each person has a right to:

  • access to records held by the RFS;
  • correction of personal information relating to oneself held by the RFS where it is inaccurate or misleading;
  • access to reasons for decisions made by the RFS directly affecting oneself.

The following records come within the scope of the FOI Act:

  • all records relating to personal information held by the RFS irrespective of when created;
  • all other records created from commencement date i.e. 21 April 1998;
  • any other records necessary to the understanding of a current record.

The RFS will normally be obliged to respond to the request within four weeks. The FOI officer for the RFS is also the FOI officer for the Companies Registration Office (CRO).

Applications under the FOI Act should be addressed to:
Mark Donoghue
Freedom of Information Officer
Registry of Friendly Societies
Parnell House, 14 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Telephone: 01 804 5251 Fax: 01 804 5222
Email: mark.donoghue@djei.ie

Requests for information must be in writing and must indicate:

  • your full name and address;
  • that it is being made under the FOI Act;
  • a day-time telephone number, if possible, so that you may be contacted quickly if it is necessary to clarify details of your request
  • details of the information requested which must be as comprehensive and as specific as possible (if you have difficulty in identifying the precise records which
    you require, we will be happy to assist you in preparing your request);
  • if necessary, the particular format in which the information is requested e.g. photocopy, disc, etc.

FOI DECISION MAKING - RFS 
Decisions on applications are made at a level not below Higher Executive Officer. Internal appeal decisions are made by officers of a higher grade.

RIGHTS OF REVIEW AND APPEAL
The FOI Act sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage key interests of the State or of third parties. Where the FOI officer in the RFS invokes these provisions to withhold information, the decision may be appealed. Decisions in relation to deferral of access, charges, forms of access, etc. may also be the subject of appeal. Details of the appeals mechanisms are as follows:

INTERNAL REVIEW
You may seek internal review of the initial decision, which will be carried out by an officer at a higher level if:

  • you are dissatisfied with the initial response received i.e. refusal of information, form of access, charges, etc., or
  • you have not received a reply within four weeks of your initial application. This is deemed to be a refusal of your request and allows you to proceed to internal review.

Requests for internal review should be submitted in writing to:
Registrar 
Registry of Friendly Societies
Parnell House, 14 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Phone: 01 804 5200
Fax: 01 804 5222
E-mail: Maureen.OSullivan@djei.ie

Such a request for internal review must be submitted within four weeks of the initial decision. The RFS must complete the review within three weeks. Internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Information Commissioner.

REVIEW BY THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
Following completion of the internal review, you may seek an independent review of the decision from the Information Commissioner. Also, if you have not received a reply to your application for internal review within three weeks, this is deemed to be a refusal and you may appeal the matter to the Information Commissioner.
Appeals in writing may be made directly to the Information Commissioner at the following address:

Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2 
Telephone: 1890 253238, 01-6395689     Fax: 01 639 5674         E-mail: info@oic.gov.ie       Website: www.oic.gov.ie   

For further information and details on how to make an application for information under the Act, please view the RFS's FOI Handbook. FOI Handbook RFS.pdf

FOI FEES
A detailed list of our fees chargeable on documents, or for services rendered, which are outside the scope of the FOI Act, are set out in Appendix 1 of the FOI Handbook. Fees for information falling under the FOI Act may be charged in accordance with S.I. No. 531 of 2014 - Freedom of Information Act 2014 (Fees)(No. 2) Regulations 2014.

In the case of requests which relate to non-personal information there are charges are applied for search retrieval and copying. Section 27(2) FOI Act 2014 relates. Search and retrieval includes time spent in:

  • Determining whether it holds the information requested;
  • Locating the information or documents containing the information
  • Retrieving such information or documents 
  • Extracting the information from the files, documents, electronic or other information sources containing both it and other material not relevant to the request, and
  • Preparing a schedule specifying the records for consideration for release.

Under the FOI Act 2014 Fees Regulations (No.2) 2014, there is a minimum threshold of €101 below which no search, retrieval and copying charges will be charged. Once the charge reaches the €101 full fees apply. There is a maximum amount that can be charged under the Regulations and it is set at €500. A further upper ceiling limit on an estimated search, retrieval and copying fees is set at €700, and with any figure above this, a body can refuse to process a request unless the requester is prepared to redefine the request to one below the limit.
There are also fees which apply for an internal review under Section 21, this is €30. The prescribed fee for appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner is €50.

Information about the FOI Body

  • The Office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies was established in 1846. The Registry of Friendly Societies operates under the aegis of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The Registrar of Friendly Societies is responsible for the assessment and registration of applications and any subsequent amendment of rules which societies are obliged to render to the Registrar, and to ensure that registered societies meet their statutory obligations with regard to filing returns, which once registered are made available for inspection by the public. In this regard the following three classes of body come under the remit of the Registrar of Friendly Societies: Trade Unions, Friendly Societies and Industrial & Provident Societies. The registry is available online to view but documents can only be purchased for Industrial & Provident Societies. It is possible to view the names and addresses of the registered Friendly Societies and Trade Unions along with a list of documents lodged against these entities. However, images are not available for download for Friendly Societies or Trade Unions.
  • Copies of the RFS Annual Report and the RFS Customer Charter can be accessed from the Corporate Publications webpage.
  • The RFS comprises the following breakdown in staff numbers: 1 Principal Officer, 1 Higher Executive Officer, 1 Executive Officer, 1 Clerical Officer. 
  • In order to view telephone/email address information regarding the RFS please find use Friendly Societies RFS webpage.

Services Provided or to be provided to the Public

  • The RFS maintains registers under the operation of the Friendly Societies Acts 1896-2014, The Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893-2014 and the Trade Union Acts 1871-1975 and other sundry legislation.
  • Information relating to the services provided by the RFS is published on www.cro.ie.
  • As well as providing information under the heading of Registration, Post Registration and Termination/restoration which deal with the life cycle of a Trade Union/Friendly Society/Industrial and Provident Society, there is information on the Companies Registration Office which registers companies, business names and limited partnerships.    
  • Fees information is stated on this website at the following pages: Industrial and Provident Societies Fees, Friendly Societies Fees and Trade Union Fees

Decision Making process for major policy proposals

  • The RFS maintains registers under the Acts described above and is not involved in policy decisions. 

Financial Information

  • Details, on  a quarterly basis, of payments or purchase orders for goods and services of more than €20,000 are published on the Payments over €20,000 webpage.

Procurement

  • Details regarding any current tender competitions on the etenders website and any public contracts awarded are available on the Procurement webpage.

FOI Disclosure Log and Other Information to be Published Routinely.

For further information regarding Freedom of Information, including the text of the Acts, please visit the government website www.foi.gov.ie/