Judge Mac Eochaidh yesterday morning apparently ruled that NAMA must now comply with environment information requests. The judgment isn’t online yet at the Court Service and no doubt Gavin Sheridan will place it on TheStory.ie when he has had a chance to scan it. The Twitter-feed above is from Gavin Sheridan, who made a request back in 2010 which then became the subject of an appeal to the Information Commissioner and then a High Court case which was decided in Gavin’s favour but which has been appealed by NAMA to the Supreme Court.
The judge yesterday was giving his decision after NAMA had sought to prevent the public submitting environment information access requests until the Supreme Court had heard its appeal against the High Court decision that it is a public authority and must consequently provide responses to environment information access requests. The Supreme Court has yet to schedule a date for the appeal but it could be up to four years so the issue of the application for the stay was important. Judge Mac Eochaidh is said by Gavin to have ruled that NAMA has the “administrative armoury” to deal with the requests now and suffers no harm from processing access requests.
The refusal by the Judge to allow the stay, means that NAMA must now comply with environment information access requests. A comment was sought from NAMA in reaction to yesterday’s judgment; details were also sought for how the requests should be made to NAMA. There has been no response at time of writing.
It remains to be seen what information these requests will provide. NAMA is entitled to suppress commercially sensitive information and when considering the topics most of public interest in NAMA’s dealings, “environment” doesn’t rank very highly. However these requests can have unintended consequences and can yield unexpected information. There will be updates here with the judgment and the process to be used for submitting requests.
UPDATE: 23rd April, 2013. The judgment rejecting the NAMA request for a stay is available here and apparently NAMA has two weeks in which to submit observations. It is an odd judgment with Judge Mac Eochaidh again making reference to matters outside the the purview of the case, particularly that NAMA is well resourced to deal with these requests. Lawyer Fred Logue who assisted Gavin in his presentation to the court analyses the judgment here.