“dealing with FOI requests takes up a considerable amount of staff time..”

I’m not sure if it required a Freedom of Information request, but the Belfast Telegraph’s David Gordon has unearthed another letter from Ian Paisley’s office. This time he was writing, in 2005, urging Moyle Council not to sign up to the publicly funded project for a Visitors Centre at the Giants’ Causeway – a project that has now been suspended by the DUP’s Nigel Dodds. Meanwhile the Belfast Telegraph reports on the answer by the First minister, Ian Paisley again, to a question on reforming the FoI system in the Assembly yesterday, also picked up by Mark Devenport. So we’ve had “stupid” questions, the “tactics of Satan”, and now being “lazy”.. and here’s a reminder of what’s at stake.That FoI question and answer in full

Mr T Clarke: Does the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister have any plans to consider reform of FOI (Freedom of Information)?

The First Minister: There is no doubt that the evidence thus far already suggests that dealing with FOI requests takes up a considerable amount of staff time. On occasions, the requests are of a wide-ranging and detailed nature that requires many hours of research, and are sent in by lazy journalists, who will not do any work, but who think that we should pay them and give them the information that they want. That, inevitably, adds time and resource pressures onto the Departments.

If, in collating evidence on how the current procedures are working, the Departments discover that reform is needed — and I think they will — it will have to take place. The civil servants are not employed full-time to pursue the requests of enquiring minds. They are supposed to be serving the Departments that they are called upon to serve, and helping those who run those Departments.

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  • Remind us who those Departments are supposed to be serving again?

  • The Freedom of Information Act is a huge asset to the public, it has already been used successfully to embarass a number of politicians so is it any wonder they want to dilute it?
    At present it is already diluted to an extent – government agenices often use cost and manpower excuses as a means of denying legitimate reuqests.
    It’s imperative that the public fight any measure to weaken the Act.
    It’s not just there to help journalists, it benefits all of us.

  • Wohw, I think he needs to get some more mentoring from Ahern and Brown on how to at least attempt to mask his hatred for the general public. Or am I just reading too much into this.

  • McGrath

    Yes, the stupid, sinful and now lazy defense.

    However I do see how it would be time consuming attempting to cover ones tracks.

  • Mrs Norris

    “dealing with FOI requests takes up a considerable amount of staff time.” Right. That must be that’s why OFMDFM has its own PAID Central FOI Team to do just that.

  • snakebrain

    Bloody plebs, poking their noses into their democratically appointed government. Who do they think they are?

  • Nevin

    Know your place, Snakebrain |:0)

    Freedom of Information Requests

    FM: All I can say is that it is the right of a Member to ask questions and it is the right of a Minister, if he so desires, to reply to them. We cannot tell Members that they cannot ask questions because they are costly. That is a matter for the Assembly, not for me.

  • GavBelfast

    Tuesday is an Old Testament Day for the Demon Doctor then.

    At least this nonsense can’t last for too many years, can it?