A breakdown of more than €364 million in spending by three universities

These three documents provide detail on expenditure of hundreds of millions of euro by three universities in recent years.

The UCD record is by far the largest and covers a lengthy period and some €319 million in expenditure by the college between November 2016 and March of this year.

The UCC data details €11.37 million in spending including €83,000 in payments to RTÉ, €60,000 to Cork City Football Club, and €50,000 to John Banville Limited.

Finally, records have also been provided by TU Dublin for their three campuses: in the city centre, Blanchardstown, and in Tallaght. Together, they cover €33 million in expenditure.

Right to Know is also seeking this information from other third level institutions and will continue to publish it over the coming weeks and months.

The data is available in excel format so feel free to get in touch if you want a copy sent.

A breakdown of Covid-19 deaths in Ireland according to county and Dublin postal district

More than 10% of confirmed Covid-19 cases in some parts of Dublin have resulted in the death of the infected person according to new data from the HSE.

A detailed breakdown of fatalities across the country and the Dublin area has been provided showing how in a single postcode area in the capital (Dublin 24), 88 people died.

The HSE said significant variations in the figures were often driven by serious outbreaks in a nursing home or residential care settings.

You can see the data for yourself below.

Government turned down deal to purchase two new aircraft because of concerns about lack of storage space and pilots

The Irish government was offered a special deal to buy two new aircraft for €8.3 million but opted to buy only one amid concerns over a shortage of pilots and available hangar space.

The new Pilatus PC-12 NG was purchased in March under special EU rules that allows normal procurement practices to be put aside in “crisis situations”.

Amongst the reasons put forward for its purchase were maintenance concerns around the government Learjet and the fact that two other Air Corps planes had amassed more flying hours than almost any comparable aircraft in the world.

Internal Department of Defence records reveal concerns were raised about how the Taoiseach, and other senior ministers would be able to leave the country at short notice given the lack of available state aircraft.

A “security sensitive” briefing note – which has been released under FOI – said emergency travel might be required arising from the Covid-19 pandemic or other “Brexit-related travel”.

The note said: “Commercial travel in the current developing situations may be unavailable, unreliable, insecure or too risky to contemplate.”

Internal report from National Maternity Hospital warning of serious risk to patients from breakdown of obsolete scanner

An internal report from the country’s largest maternity hospital warned that parts from an obsolete scanner could become dislodged and land on a new-born infant with “catastrophic” effect.

The fluoroscopy machine at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street has been in use since 2006 and was supposed to be replaced before it was ten years old.

However, the machine continued to be used well past its “end-of-life” causing patient transfers, cancellations, and rescheduled appointments.

An internal report – published here by Right to Know – warned of the risk of parts from it becoming dislodged due to its age.

It said: “Should this happen while an infant was being examined, the resulting injury could likely be catastrophic as these parts are generally very heavy (in the amounts of kilos).”

Cabinet records on “ministerial Mercs” and decision to allow ministers to use bus lanes

These are Cabinet records from the government decisions of 2011 and 2012 surrounding arrangements for ministerial transport.

In 2011, a decision was made to abolish state cars for all but the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister for Justice, the DPP, Chief Justice, and the President.

Other ministers would be allowed to hire garda drivers, use their own cars, and claim mileage.

A separate decision was also made that ministers would be allowed to use bus lanes against the advice of then Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

The records were obtained under FOI by Right to Know. Cabinet records are available under FOI after five years unless still considered exempt.

The earliest briefings for Minister Simon Harris on the outbreak of Covid-19 worldwide and in Ireland

These are copies of all submissions to Minister Simon Harris relating to the outbreak of Covid-19, first in China and later in Ireland.

They have been obtained under FOI by Right to Know following an internal review to the Department of Health.

They cover a two-month time period from the very first submission relating to a “cluster of pneumonia cases” in Wuhan from January to emergency shipments of personal protective equipment in March.

The records provide a clear picture of the spread of the disease, from a “low likelihood” of spread to getting ready for the surge.

They also give new detail on PPE shipments from China and how the HSE could not go through “their normal due diligence processes”.

Details surrounding the decision to postpone establishment of the Cervical Check tribunal are also published here for the first time.

Cuts to board fees for members of NAMA as the agency enters “wind down”

The Government made significant cuts to the level of pay for the chair and board members of Nama because the agency is in “wind down” mode.

The fee payable to the chairperson of the asset management agency has been decreased from €150,000 per year to €100,000, according to records obtained under FoI.

It will be further cut to just €45,000 from the beginning of next year with the new annual rate of €100,000 already applying to Nama’s recently appointed chairman Aidan Williams.

Fees for ordinary board members have also been chopped by almost a quarter, and have been reduced from €50,000 to €38,000 since January 1.

The cuts were quietly made on foot of an instruction from Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, who said the decreases were now considered “appropriate”.

A datadump of all purchase orders worth more than €20,000 for the Dept of Justice in 2019 – including €131 million in payments for direct provision accommodation

This is a list of all purchase orders of more than €20,000 from the Department of Justice in 2019.

A huge portion of the bill related to the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers in the direct provision system.

The other expenditure – on IT, media services, transport etc – is all general spending by the department last year.

While some of it may relate to direct provision, most of it will relate to the day-to-day business of the Department of Justice.

These lists of purchase orders worth more than €20,000 are supposed to be published by all public bodies as a matter of course.

The Department of Justice had ceased this practice and the record was obtained under FOI by Right to Know.

The department has now committed to publishing it to their website and hopefully will resume routine publication of this important information.

Data Protection Commissioner wanted to provide “guarantee of absolute confidentiality” to technology giants

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, the Data Protection Commissioner was only partially included as part of the new law.

This means that only administrative records from the office can be sought under FOI and that all other records relating to investigations, including high-profile ones like those into Facebook and the Public Services Card, are entirely out of reach of the public.

This document is a submission by the Department of Justice explaining why they believed the Data Protection Commissioner should be protected from the full scope of the FOI Act.