By Des Cryan in Dublin
Irish Government statistics have confirmed the dramatic decline in
the use of the Freedom of Information Act since the Government
introduced restrictions and higher charges for its use.
In 2004 there were 882 requests made by journalists, whereas in
2003, the number was 2,390. The steep decline in the usage of the act
by the media in 2004 is regarded as an indication that the restrictions
which have been imposed on journalists have severely curtailed their
Fees for the use of the FoI Act were introduced in July 2003.
Government also restricted the type of files which would be made
available, in particular limiting access to information concerning
Critics of the Government’s
restriction of the act have charged that the aim has been to limit the
release of embarrassing information about government decisions which
was being obtained by the media under the FoI Act.