Right To Know

I was fortunate enough to be asked to become an advisor to Right To Know, a not-for-profit set up to work for transparency in Ireland and to push the boundaries of what can be achieved using Freedom of Information legislation (and other similar laws).

It was set up by Gavin Sheridan and Fred Logue, who I have been lucky enough to work with at times over the past decade. They have been at the forefront of campaigning on FOI law, not least on two famous cases involving Nama and the ECB Trichet letters.

Also involved are Director Malachy Browne, and advisors Tom Lyons and Karrie Kehoe.

It is a simple fact of modern media that time and immediacy have, if possible, become even bigger factors in the hour-to-hour life of a working reporter.

Journalists use Freedom of Information primarily to generate stories … not usually to become engaged in an appeals process that can take several years, and become incredibly expensive.

For many reporters I know, even getting the time to consistently make FOI requests is a luxury.

If those requests fail, they are very often let slip, often refused on spurious grounds.

Some public bodies know this and are using refusals as a way of weeding out those who do not have the time or bullheadedness to keep on pushing.

That is why something like Right To Know is so important because if journalists and media organisations are not being empowered to fight for the right to information, somebody is going to have to do it.

I would strongly urge anybody with an interest in transparency and open government to visit the Right To Know website, and support the project.