Thank you for responding to my query regarding the publication by local authorities of persons fined for not removing election posters.
Unfortunately, your reply has not been very helpful.
Your reply consists of two parts:
Name and Shame Schemes and the situation regarding private individuals.
The Name and Shame Schemes seem to refer to criminal convictions and the Courts Service.
I fail to see the relevance of these schemes to the withholding of names by local authorities of political parties/politicians/candidates who are in breach of the Litter Pollution Acts.
I’m also puzzled by your reference to private individuals when the context of the issue is public elections and public election campaign activities.
Surely a citizen is not acting in a private capacity when involved in an election campaign? Surely when a citizen, who has publicly registered as a candidate for election, publicly breaks the Litter Pollution Acts, they are not acting as private citizens.
It hardly needs to be stated that political parties are, by definition, public entities. It is therefore difficult to understand how local authorities can refuse to divulge the names of such parties that have been fined for breach of the Litter Pollution Acts.
I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions with absolute clarity.
Under Data Protection legislation can local authorities refuse to divulge the names of political parties who have been fined for breach of the Litter Pollution Acts?
Under Data Protection legislation can local authorities refuse to divulge the names of elected officials who have been fined for breach of the Litter Pollution Acts?
Fingal County Council have provided the following interpretation of the Data Protection Act in relation to this issue:
Fingal County Council has obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1998-2003 in relation to protecting the privacy of individuals. Specifically unauthorised disclosure of personal data is prohibited. Section 2 of the Act (as amended) prohibits such disclosure.
Is Fingal County Council correct in this interpretation given that the issues involved are entirely public matters?
I strongly believe that this important issue needs to be clarified to a level where there is no room for doubt or fudge.
Either citizens have the right to be informed of the identities of politicians and political parties who are in breach of the Litter Pollution Acts or they do not have that right.
As custodian and operator of the Data Protection Acts your decisions on this issue could have serious consequences for the rights of citizens regarding access to information in respect of elected representatives and political parties.