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The Executive was not in a position to provide figures for this year, but a spokesperson said 9,601 requests were made last year. The total figure that the HSE charged for search and retrieval fees in 2017 was €140.
The Department of Health told the Medical Independent that it received 351 FoI requests in 2017, and 117 so far this year. This compares to a total of 317 requests in 2016.
Last year, the Department charged €1,174 in search and retrieval fees and just €54 so far this year.
Both the Department and HSE have experienced sharp increases in FoI requests since the enactment of the FoI Act 2014. The new Act removed the charge of €15 and also reduced charges for search and retrieval costs.
In its Annual Report, published in June 2017, the Office of the Information Commissioner revealed that there were 30,417 requests under the Act made to public bodies in 2016. The number of applications made to the Information Commissioner to review FoI decisions rose by 32 per cent in the same year.
“Since the removal of fees for FoI requests in 2014, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of requests made to public bodies,” Information Commissioner and Commissioner for Environmental Information Mr Peter Tyndall said on the launch of the Annual Report last year.
“The demand has not been met with a sufficient increase in resources to process FoI requests. I am concerned that many public bodies are not treating FoI with as much importance as their other statutory functions.”