Apologies if this has been posted already. (I couldn’t find a reference to it over the weekend.)
Enda Kenny said on Morning Ireland on Friday that he had asked for advice given over the last number of years to finance ministers and the Taoiseach on spending projections. The Dept of Finance said he could have it - but it would cost €6,000.
The excuse - which is commonly rolled out, against the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act - is that providing the information would be time-consuming so a ‘search and retrieval’ fee is imposed. This is legal but often applied beyond reason.
It shouldn’t be particularly hard to search for and retrieve this type of info - unless Kenny has asked for advice dating back to 1921. Presumably the advice would show that either (a) the Dept of Finance warned politicians about the state of the public finances or (b) the Dept of Finance didn’t notice how vulnerable the State was to economic shocks (predictable and unpredictable).
It’s quite possible that the Dept has deliberately interpreted the request in the broadest conceivable terms (“all advice to the minister” meaning ever memo, email and phone message provided by officials and submitted by interest groups") so as to avoid or delay releasing the advice.
Maybe Kenny’s office will pay the fee but most people, including journalists, would drop such a request rather than challenge it. An contested FoI decision is reviewed internally first - which takes time - and then you can appeal to the Info Commissioner (for a fee), but they are not always as well resourced as they should be.
p.s. I’ve no connections to FG or any other political group - but I think the Opposition are entitled to an answer to this kind of question.