Ken Foxe Profile picture
Writer. Interested in creative collabs. Transparency activist. 3ma: 3DYXH959 🐬↑
Nov 9, 2021 23 tweets 10 min read
A thread on widespread flouting of public health measures in our national parliament.

1/ The TD who took sanitary wipes from a tray in the Convention Centre.

He threw one back on the tray, another on the floor, then “scarpered” when a compliance member went to ask him about it: 2/ One politician who always makes sure he has his mask on when the cameras are rolling in the chamber.

When walking around … not so much:
Nov 8, 2021 7 tweets 3 min read
Thread: A TD claimed to have secretly photographed staff working at Leinster House to gather “evidence” some were not wearing masks.

During the same incident, another TD told a staff member asked to monitor public health compliance they were like the “morality police” in Iran. In an email, one of the compliance staff made an official complaint asking if the matter should be notified to the Data Protection Commission (@DPCIreland).

TD had claimed to have surreptitiously photographed 16 staff, 14 of whom he said were not wearing masks.
Sep 29, 2021 15 tweets 6 min read
The actual history of FOI reform in Ireland tells us to be really cautious about what will happen once the review begins.

Back in 2002, govt were worried about five-year exemption for Cabinet records because their own decisions would become FOIable.… A high-level group of the most senior civil servants in the country were given the ball ... and they ran away with it.

It was their work that began discussion over vexatious requests, "trawling", and fees to help shut FOI down. It's all in black and white in the records:
Aug 10, 2021 17 tweets 7 min read
Thread: An Oireachtas staff member had to change the route they walked to their office because a TD on their floor never wore a mask.

“It is especially difficult when the individual is an elected member of the Dáil and the prospect of confronting him … is an intimidating one.” Oireachtas staff members tasked with monitoring compliance with Covid-19 public health guidelines are taking “abuse and hostility”.

Many ignore the advice, point to somebody else and ask why they’re being singled out, while some are simply “hostile or dismissive”
Jul 20, 2020 6 tweets 2 min read
As long as you remain silent on this issue and don't raise it with your local TD or Senator, nothing is going to change. This is about much more than political pensions ... this is just the latest phase in an unraveling of our Freedom of Information Act: There are people within government who believe access to information about how our state operates has gone too far. Bit by bit, they are chipping away at it. Information that was once freely available is now refused. GDPR is often used as a smokescreen ...
Jul 19, 2020 16 tweets 7 min read
Thread: Govt paid out €5.23M for new jet amid concerns that Taoiseach & ministers would need to travel abroad at short notice because of Covid-19 or Brexit. "Commercial travel in current developing situation may be unavailable, unreliable, insecure or too risky to contemplate." Internal records reveal how government was given opportunity to purchase two jets from Pilatus. A senior civil servant said "normal procurement rules need to be relaxed" so that the Irish state could go ahead with buying or leasing the aircraft:
Jun 23, 2020 13 tweets 5 min read
Thread: Every day for the past month, I’ve tweeted documents obtained using Freedom of Information and about the uphill battle we face to ensure continued access to public records. I hoped during government formation talks, it might provoke a public debate about transparency … … It didn’t! It does however give a sense of what can be achieved through FOI, from release of Apple tax case fees to Covid-19 postcode data. It also gives a flavour of the difficulties: withholding of political pensions, unrecorded meetings + the state’s beloved “exemptions”
Jun 4, 2020 9 tweets 3 min read
Today is the second time Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has made remarks about direct provision not being "compulsory". Last year, he said the very same thing and said people could "leave at any time". A few small questions about that:… When he says people can leave, what does he mean by that? They are not allowed to go to another country in Europe because their application for international protection needs to be processed in Ireland. So that leaves really two options.
May 27, 2020 38 tweets 13 min read
Thread: Dept of Justice considered camper vans for residents of direct provision to self-isolate if "urgent response" was required. Detail contained in minutes of meetings of International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) which has been obtained under FOI. This one April 1 April 1: Dept wants to ensure there are no more than three people to a room in direct provision. Possibility of moving residents from 10 B&Bs around the country to different facilities is also considered:
May 19, 2020 11 tweets 5 min read
Thread: The Department of Health has refused to release copies of briefings and submissions for Minister Simon Harris relating to the spread of coronavirus. Some of these date back to January (including what I believe is the first one from Jan 21) The Department has said the records are exempt under Section 29 and 30 of the FOI Act. The first is that they relate to a deliberative process (even ones from Jan???) and the second, well you can read for yourself - the most blurry and wide-ranging of all our many FOI exemptions:
May 2, 2020 11 tweets 4 min read
Thread: Ministers, TDs, and Senators billed the taxpayer €1.3 million last year in the little-known special secretarial allowance. It allows for payments for PR advice, secretarial assistance, and IT. Three months of invoices have been made available under FOI: Minister Simon Coveney billed €29,520 for PR advice from Springboard PR & Marketing. The maximum allowable claim under this allowance in a year is €41,902. This is one of three invoices:
Apr 27, 2020 20 tweets 9 min read
Thread: The Department of Justice spent €131 million on providing accommodation to residents of direct provision last year. This is an account of exactly where that money went. Information was obtained under FOI by @RightToKnowIE: The highest earners were Millstreet Equestrian Services. They received €11.6 million. They have provided accommodation at their Millstreet Centre in Cork and at other centres in Kerry, Tipperary, and Waterford:
Apr 19, 2020 13 tweets 5 min read
Thread: There's a quote from Minister Simon Harris in Sunday Independent today about coronavirus and the level of knowledge there was about it on February 8. Maybe it was just a figure of speech but an extremely strange one nonetheless. Thanks to @normaburke for the image: The reason I find this so strange is that the minister had been extensively briefed on coronavirus in the weeks leading up to February 8. Here's one relating to a memo for the information of government from Jan 29:
Mar 6, 2020 12 tweets 5 min read
Thread: Michael Healy-Rae added three new properties to his extensive land portfolio according to the latest register of interests. The new ones are a "doer-upper" in Kilgarvan, a house in Clonkeen in need of "refurbishment", and a rental property in Tralee: Image Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny declared seven trips abroad. This included trips to Germany, Portugal, Barbados, UK, and three to the U.S. The one to Barbados was to discuss Ireland's "economic recovery" with the government there: Image
Mar 4, 2020 14 tweets 5 min read
Thread: Some time ago, a group of eight junior ministers went complaining to Minister Paschal Donohoe that the expenses they are paid are not enough and asked him to do something about it. Naturally, I submitted an FOI request for records related to this meeting and its outcome: At first, the Dept of Public Expenditure (the department responsible for FOI in Ireland!) did not even answer request. I sought an internal review on the basis this was a "deemed refusal". The Department eventually responded to say they held no records relating to the meeting:
Nov 12, 2019 10 tweets 4 min read
Did you know (this one you probably do) that Independent TDs and Senators get an annual allowance of between €21,000 and €37,000 each that they can put towards opinion polling, consultants, "policy formulation", and entertainment: Policy formulation can mean many things under the guidelines. Last year, Minister Sean Canney put in for €3,258 in this category. It was exclusively made up of restaurant bills:
May 19, 2019 9 tweets 4 min read
Thread: The final leg of the saga of those extremely difficult to find emails and messages between former minister Frances Fitzgerald and her PR adviser Terry Prone. Special adviser's phone was "reset, wiped of data" and "recirculated" to another member of staff: Information Commissioner says in future, public bodies are required to make sure records held in "non-official systems, email accounts, and devices" are forwarded to official communications systems as soon as practicable. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action:
May 4, 2019 10 tweets 4 min read
Thread: For almost 2 years, we have been trying to get access to correspondence between then Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan and PR consultant Terry Prone. This was during time in which Ms Prone's firm was advising both the Commissioner & Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. The short version of this is that we have failed. Information Commissioner has ruled that relevant records don't fall under very narrow scope in which FOI applies to An Garda Síochána (that is only matters relating to administrative records relating to HR, finance & procurement)
Apr 3, 2019 6 tweets 3 min read
This decision on Freedom of Information is another nail in the coffin of Ireland's access to information regime. It's vital that journalists, @NUJOfficial, civil society groups, and public join with @RightToKnowIE in resisting slow death of "our" FOI Act:… There is a slow and steady whittling away of our right of access to public information that is being fought every day and at the moment, we are losing this fight. In cases involving the President, the law has been retrospectively changed to try and shut down requests:
Mar 26, 2019 9 tweets 4 min read
"This was an institution created and operated by the Irish State," - confidential letter about the Tuam Mother & Baby Home to Minister Katherine Zappone from the Sisters of Bon Secours Ireland released under FOI to @RightToKnowIE:… The Tuam Mother & Baby Home was under the "supervision, direction, and inspection" of the local authority and the Department of Health. Galway County Council paid for a doctor and a chaplain and the home was inspected by health inspectors:
Mar 25, 2019 28 tweets 10 min read
Thread: As promised earlier, this will be the very long (frustrating and often tedious) story of @RightToKnowIE efforts to get access to correspondence between former Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan & PR guru Terry Prone: Take One: In March 2017, I sought details of the contract with the Communications Clinic and also copies of all correspondence between Noirín O'Sullivan and Terry Prone (or her firm) during the period in which the contract was in place: