Papal Nuncio FOI

Back in December, Allan Cavanagh of Caricatures Ireland contacted us in relation to his interest in the Papal Nuncio, and their involvment or communications concerning the Murphy Report. At the time there were calls for the Papal Nuncio to be expelled, over their apparent failure to cooperate properly with the Murphy investigation. We helped him draft an FOI concerning this issue.

Allan sent us a copy of the result, and we have OCRd and uploaded it for public consumption.

The documents do not contain much interesting information, as we expected Section 24 (Security, Defence and International Relations) was broadly applied. But even exemptions can contains valuable information.

What I am unhappy with in terms of the reply received is this. Allan sought:

All records, including but not limited to, notes of meetings, telephone calls,
emails and internal memoranda relating to communications between the
Department and representatives of the Vatican, the Catholic Church, the
Dublin Diocese or any other representatives of the Church or Church bodies,
in the time following the publication of the Murphy Report up to the date of
receipt of the request.

The Deciding Officer said:

Your request, which was received on 10 December 2009, is one of three requests
received for access to similar records. As there is a considerable degree of overlap
between the three requests, I have taken the decision to consider the requests together.
My response may therefore include some records which do not fall directly within the
scope of your individual request.

The schedule of documents does not list any communications from “the Dublin Diocese or any other representatives of the Church or Church bodies”. I cannot see how any Section 24 exemption would apply to such a communication. It could be argued by the Department that such communication would “contain information communicated in confidence to any person in or outside the State from any person in or outside the State and relation to a matter referred to in subsection (1) [including “the international relations of the State”]…and expressed by the latter person to be confidential or communicated in confidence”. This would not necessarily be the case in relation to communications from the Diocese, since it may not have related to inter-State communications.

But the reply does not appear to deal with this part of the request at all.