The ‘death’ of the right to know

Our Freedom of Information laws were based on international best practice – but experts say new court interpretation is putting its democratic openness in peril

Gavin Sheridan: the transparency campaigner fought a major court battle over an FOI request (Pic: Maura Hickey)

In 1997, Eithne Fitzgerald held drinks in her office to mark the beginning of a new era of transparency. The then minister of state at the Department of Enterprise and Employment was celebrating the introduction of Ireland’s first Freedom of Information (FOI) law, but not everybody was happy about it.

The new law had met a lot of resistance behind closed doors. Certain officials considered it an all-out assault on the vital privacy of the ...