Secrecy still protecting law breaking politicians

Dublin local authorities have issued more than 90 fines to political candidates who failed to remove posters on time after the local and European elections last May (Irish Times).

But once again it has been decided that the great unwashed are not be told the names of politicians/parties who have broken the law.

Fingal and Dublin/Rathdown County Councils said they couldn’t release the names for ‘data protection reasons’.

Dublin City Council did not reveal figures either, haughtily decreeing that:

Enforcement activity will be reported to the Elected Members in due course.

I rang the Data Protection Commissioner’s office to ask were these local authorities permitted to keep such information secret and, if so, under what section of the Data Protection Act they were exercising their power.

I received an acknowledgement and a promise that an answer would be forthcoming within the next 15 working days.

I rang Fingal County Council with the same question and, as usual, I was told to put my query in writing.

I did and received the following reply:

Dear Mr. Sheridan,

I refer to your phone call today and subsequent email. Unfortunately I am not in a position to offer you legal advice in relation to this matter.

Best Regards

My reply:

Dear…

Clearly, you have misunderstood my request. I am not seeking legal advice in any manner or form.

I am merely requesting the relevant section of the Data Protection Act under which Fingal County Council is basing its decision to keep confidential the names of candidates and political parties who have been fined for failing to remove election posters in the recent local and European elections.

My request is specifically focused on the following quote in today’s Irish Times.

She (a spokeswoman for Fingal County Council) said details of the candidates or parties that received fines would not be made available for data protection reasons.

It is reasonable to assume that the spokesperson is aware of the relevant section of the Data Protection Act to which she is referring.

I simply want to know that particular section.

Yours etc.,
Anthony Sheridan

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