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Executive Office will not be publishing disclosure log of FOI requests

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First minister Martin McGuinness have no plans to publish disclosure logs of FOI requests received by their department. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE First and Deputy First Minister have been accused of "control freakery" after stating the Executive Office will not be publishing a disclosure log of Freedom of Information requests, despite the practice being widespread in other UK governments.

At present, The Executive Office publishes an annual report on FOI requests it receives, but does not regularly disclose individual cases.

The Scottish and Welsh governments, and several British government departments, routinely make responses to FOI requests publicly available on their websites.

However, Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness have said they do not intend to follow suit, in response to a written Assembly question from Ulster Unionist Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler.

Mr Butler told The Irish News: "The refusal to publish a disclosure log of FOI requests, yet again demonstrates the control freakery of this Executive, who try and shut down scrutiny at every turn.

"It is accepted good practice to publish FOI requests, and the information given in response. As we have seen with recent retrograde changes to the budget process, this Executive is completely opposed to transparent government."

Last year it emerged that fewer than one in five written assembly questions to the former OFMDFM had been answered on time in the past 12 months.

While more than 42 per cent of written assembly questions to OFMDFM were answered on time in the 2011-12 session, this fell to 14 per cent by 2014-15.

In late 2012 OFMDFM was one of only four public bodies in the UK to be placed under official monitoring by the Information Commissioner.

The following year it was revealed that a fifth of all complaints about government departments to the Information Commissioner, which adjudicates on freedom of information refusals, related to OFMDFM.

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