Department of Finance releases Wright review panel documents

The Department of Finance has released documents related to the Wright Panel. The Panel was established by Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan on 10 September, 2010, to examine the Department of Finance’s performance over the previous ten years and advise how the Department “might adapt to meet the challenges of the future”.

Tom Lyons, the deputy business editor of the Sunday Independent obtained the documents after a two year appeals process with the Information Commissioner, after Finance refused access citing Section 26 and 21 of the FOI Act. The Commissioner found in favour of release.

Of the more notable things in the documents is former Central Bank chief John Hurley referring to the decision by officials to guarantee the banks as ‘heroic’:

And as Tom Lyons notes:

Despite long interviews with Brian Lenihan, the former Minister for Finance, and Brian Cowen, the former Taoiseach, the department said it had no records of what they thought. The department also claimed it had no record of what Kevin Cardiff, its then secretary general who was in charge of banking during the boom, thought.

Here is the release in full:

This is the decision of the Information Commissioner:

5 thoughts on “Department of Finance releases Wright review panel documents”

  1. This really is an excellent decision by the Commissioner.

    Her investigator for once has used the lack of evidence put forward by the public body to satisfy its burden of proof for claiming an exemption. This lazy response to FOI has to be thwarted by the Commissioner.

    Furthermore the Commissioner has disallowed the general application of an exemption in the absence of *any* specific argument or evidence that relates to the reason why the exemption should apply to a specific record.

    All too often public bodies use generic arguments with the implicit but clear assumption that records should not be released at all, ever and that the mere statement of prejudice in general is enough to activate an exemption. All too often the public interest is totally ignored which says a lot about how the release of records is perceived in public bodies.

    I really hope we see more decisions like this.

  2. 1) It can take months
    2) Not all decisions are published
    3) This is because they all have to be translated into Irish

    1. Thanks Gavin, I asked the Information Commissioner’s Office and they said they only publish certain decisions. It sounds crazy to me, decision notices are an essential resource for effective use of FOI law. I’ve asked them for more information and not heard back yet.

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