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26/09/2021

Appeal lodged with Information Commissioner after FOI request on 'road to nowhere' refused

Carlow Live has formally lodged the appeal this week

Carlow Carlow Carlow

An aerial view of the 'road to nowhere' just outside Carlow Town (CREDIT: Carlow Weather)

An appeal has been lodged with the Office of the Information Commissioner after a Freedom of Information request on the "road to nowhere" was refused by Carlow County Council. 

Carlow Live has formally issued notice of appeal this week after an internal appeal carried out - at the request of this website - upheld a decision by the Council to deny the request "as the records sought continue to be the subject of legal proceedings".

The Freedom of Information request sought details on the amount of interest paid by Carlow County Council between 2007 and to date in 2018 on a loan taken out to pay a High Court settlement to Nessleside Builders over the case the company took against the Council over the construction of the Eastern Relief Road. 

Details were also sought on how much was actually borrowed to pay Nessleside Builders and how much is left to be repaid and how much of the actual loan (that isn't interest) has been paid off between 2007 and to date in 2018.

The Council denied the request "as the records sought continue to be the subject of legal proceedings".  

After the FOI was refused an internal appeal was sought at the request of Carlow Live - an appeal is available to anyone who has had an FOI request refused. 

The Council conducted an internal review and after a few days said an internal review of the request had been carried out.

They added: "Your request is hereby refused as the records sought are exempt in accordance with Section 29 and Section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014, as they are the subject of legal proceedings.

"You may appeal this decision to the Office of the Information Commissioners by 'applying for a review' on payment of a fee of €50 (generally) within a period of six months."

The matter is now come before the Information Commissioner who will decide whether or not the information on the loan should be provided to Carlow Live. 

The Information Commissioner's Office carries out independent reviews of decisions taken by public bodies on Freedom of Information requests.

Councillors were told that the loan would cripple the Council for 20 years but it was confirmed recently that the loan of €8m taken out in connection with the road controversy had been "redeemed" a number of years ago.

It has also been revealed that a "significant portion" of the construction costs of the Carlow Eastern Relief Road were funded by the Council from the issue of development contribution credits in the amount of €8.5m.

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