Freedom of Information Publication Scheme

 [Introduction]  [Information about the Office of the Attorney General]
 [Functions of the Attorney General]  [Records held in the Office]
 [Policy, Legislation and Related matters]  [Corporate Plans and Strategies]
 [Annual Report]  [Organisational Structure]  [Governance and Management Arrangements]  [Pay Grading]  [Locations of the Office]  [Media Enquiries]  [Customer Charter]
 [Code of Practice]  [Services provided to the Public]  [Financial Information]
 [Information Published by the Office]  [FOI Requests to the Office]
 [Right to Internal Review of a Decision]  [Right of Further Appeal]  [Fees for FOI Requests]

Introduction

The Attorney General's Office (including the Office of the Chief State Solicitor) is a public body for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. However, it should be noted that under section 42 of the Act, records created or held by the Attorney General, other than records relating to the general administration of the Office, are not covered by the Act.

The result is that the public has a right of access to records concerning general administration of the Office but no others.

The following Publication Scheme has been prepared under Section 8 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2014. The Scheme came into effect on 14 April 2016. It is designed to facilitate the provision of information to the greatest extent possible, except for information exempted under the FOI Act.

The Scheme is web based and contains links to reference material on our website, which will be updated as provided for under the Act. A hard copy will be made available for viewing by appointment.

Information about the Office of the Attorney General

The role of the Attorney General is defined in Article 30 of the Constitution as "the adviser of the Government in matters of law and legal opinion". The functions, powers and duties of the Attorney General are to be found in the Constitution, in legislation (primarily section 6 of the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924), in constitutional convention and in judicial decisions delivered both prior to and subsequent to the founding of the State.

Functions of the Attorney General

The Attorney General has a wide variety of functions as follows:

  • As legal adviser to the Government, the Attorney General attends Government meetings. The Attorney General advises the Government on all the constitutional and legal issues which arise in connection with or at Government meetings.
  • The Attorney General is responsible for the drafting of legislation to meet the policy requirements of Ministers. As well as ensuring the provision of draft legislation, he/she also advises in relation to compliance of proposed legislation with the provisions of the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Union Law.
  • The Attorney General represents the State in all legal proceedings involving the State.
  • The Attorney General is the representative of the public in all legal proceedings for the enforcement of law and the assertion or protection of public rights.
  • The Attorney General defends the constitutionality of Bills referred to the Supreme Court by the President under Article 26 of the Constitution.
  • The Attorney General advises in relation to escheated estates.
  • The Attorney General has functions in respect of the Law Reform Commission under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975.
  • The Attorney General has functions in respect of the legislative programme and is a member of the Government Legislation Committee.

Records held in the Office

The range of records held by the Office that may be released i.e. general administration, falls within the following broad categories:

  • Accounts/Expenditure Records
  • Assets Register
  • Civil/Public Service Guidelines and Circulars
  • Minutes of management meetings dealing with general administrative matters
  • Annual Reports
  • Statements of Strategy

Policy, Legislation and related matters

In general, the Office is not required to make decisions on policy but does advise Government Departments and Offices on legal policy and on the management of legal issues. This advice is exempt for the provisions of the FOI ACT under Section 42(f) of the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

Corporate Plans & Strategies

The Office is guided by, its Strategy Statement. A copy may be accessed at http://www.attorneygeneral.ie/pub/statements_of_strategy.html.

Annual Report

The Office's Annual Reports are available on the website at http://www.attorneygeneral.ie/pub/pub.html.

Organisational Structure

The Office of the Attorney General incorporates the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. Thus the Office comprises three elements:

Please note that for the purposes of FOI all three offices are treated as one organisation.

Governance and Management arrangements

The Office is committed to best practice structures, processes and systems that support the successful operation of duties in an ethical, accountable, transparent and effective manner. Details of the Office's governance arrangements can be found in its Corporate Governance Framework documents, which set out the systems, principles and processes by which the Office is directed and controlled. The AGO framework document is available at [Link to follow] and the CSSO document is available at [Link to follow].

Pay Grading

The Offices are staffed by civil servants employed on either permanent or contract basis. Recruitment is sometimes carried out locally but in general the Public Appointments Service (PAS) carries out specialist recruitment competitions on behalf of the Offices.

The Offices also recruit from general Civil Service competitions carried out by PAS.

When recruitment is carried out locally, the vacancies are advertised on the website for the relevant Office.

All staff are paid on the standard Civil Service pay scales. The current payscales are available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website at:

Locations of the Office

Office of the Attorney General
Government Buildings
Upper Merrion Street
Dublin D02 R583.

Phone: 01- 6616944 / 6314000
e-Mail: info@ag.irlgov.ie

Office of the Chief State Solicitor
Osmond House,
Little Ship Street,
Dublin D08 V8C5.

Phone: 01- 4176100
e-Mail: contact@csso.gov.ie

Media Enquiries

The Government Press Office - http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/News/

Customer Charter

The Office's Client and Customer Service Charter is available at http://www.attorneygeneral.ie/pub/client_customer.html.

Code of Practice

The staff of the Office are civil servants in the Civil Service of the State and are therefore bound by the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour.

Services Provided to the Public

The Office provides a legal service to Government Departments and Offices. This includes the full range of litigation, transactional and advisory services along with a legislation drafting service for Government. The Office does not provide any services directly to the public.

Financial Information

The Office is funded by votes from the exchequer allocated to: the Office of the Attorney General (Vote 3) and to the Office of the Chief State Solicitor (Vote 6).

Each Office prepares Annual Appropriation Accounts which are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The most recent audited accounts are for 2014. A copy can be located at: http://www.audgen.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/annualreports/2014/AppAcc/En/AppAccIndex_EN_2014.htm

The Office uses the central frameworks and contracts put in place by the Office of Government Procurement where possible. For services not currently covered by OGP arrangements the Offices comply with national and EU procurement obligations.

Information on purchase orders of €20,000 or greater is published on our websites.

AGO: http://www.attorneygeneral.ie/pub/purchase_orders.html

CSSO: http://www.attorneygeneral.ie/csso/english/publications.htm

Information published by the Office

The FOI Act is intended to allow access to information held by public bodies which is not routinely available by other means (subject to certain exemptions, procedures and time limits). The following information about the activities and functions of the Office is available without the need to use the FOI Act.

  • Annual Reports
  • Statements of Strategy
  • Purchases Information
  • Customer Service Material

All are available on the Office website at http://www.attorneygeneral.ie/pub/pub.html

FOI Requests to the Office

Under the FOI Act, any person is entitled to apply for access to information which is not otherwise publicly available. Requests should be made in writing and should specify that they are being made under the FOI Act. The form in which the records are sought e.g. photocopies/electronic means – should be stated in the request. To allow identification of the records sought, requesters should describe the records in as much detail as possible. If possible, a contact number which can be used during office hours should be provided for the purpose of clarifying the details of an FOI request. The staff of the Office will assist in the formulation of an FOI request, if necessary.

Requests can be made by post or by e-Mail. Contact details are:

The FOI Liaison Officer
Office of the Attorney General
Government Buildings
Upper Merrion Street
Dublin D02 R583.

Phone: 01-6616944 / 6314000
e-Mail: FOIRequest@ag.irlgov.ie

The Office will acknowledge a request under the FOI Act within two weeks. The decision will issue within four weeks.

Right to Internal Review of a Decision

The FOI Act provides for a right to internal review of decisions of public bodies. An internal review may be requested where an FOI request has been refused or partially granted or where access has been deferred or the form of access is disputed.

Refusal of an FOI request is deemed to have occurred where a decision has not issued within four weeks of receipt of the FOI request.

Requests for internal review of decisions of the Office should be made, in writing, to:

The FOI Liaison Officer
Office of the Attorney General
Government Buildings
Upper Merrion Street
Dublin D02 R583.

Phone: 01-6616944 / 6314000
e-Mail: FOIRequest@ag.irlgov.ie

The Liaison Officer will ensure that the review is carried out by an official at a higher level than the official who made the original FOI decision. Such a request should be made within four weeks of the original decision. The decision following internal review should issue within three weeks of its receipt.

Right of Further Appeal

If dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal review you may appeal to the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin D02HE97

Phone: +353-1-639 5689
Fax: (01) 6395676
e-Mail: foi@oic.ie

Fees for Freedom of Information Requests

There is no fee for a request for records under the Freedom of Information Acts. However, there is a fee of €30 (unless the requester is a medical card holder) for an internal appeal of a decision.