Government refuses again to provide breakdown of payments to lawyers

The Department of Finance has refused to provide a breakdown of payments to lawyers involved in the Apple tax case in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The Government announced last year that it would no longer name individual lawyers working for it due to data protection concerns raised by the Attorney General, despite solicitors challenging his interpretation of the law.

In response to an FOI request from the Irish Examiner, the Department refused on four grounds including that it is still “seeking clarification on the interaction between the FOI Act and the GDPR” from the Attorney General.

It added: “The department continues to be committed to transparency and has not changed its policy in relation to the release of this information.”

Solicitor Fred Logue, who specialises in information law, told the newspaper: “I see no difficulty in releasing this information under an FOI request.

“Processing of personal data is lawful if it is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation, for example an obligation to grant access to records under the FOI Act.

“In fact, section 44 of the Data Protection Act makes it clear that personal data may be disclosed where an FOI request has been made for records containing that information.”