Dublin City Council hides behind “details supplied”

Dublin City HallThe term “details supplied” appears over and over again in the appendixes of Dublin City Council minutes. It’s the council’s equivalent of blacked-out text.

“Details supplied” appears 64 in the latest minutes published online, those for the January 2011 council meeting. For December, the term comes up 114 times. For November, 88 times. For October, 103 times. For September, 112 times.

In fairness, the term is needed. It’s needed to protect people’s personal details. But the council’s use goes far beyond this legitimate usage.

But why does the council feel the need to hide the details of public roads or footpath repairs, or details of council programmes? For example:

“To ask the Manager to initiate proceedings to have, (details supplied), entered on the derelict sites list.”

“To ask the City Manager to report on the new initiative, (details supplied), started by the Council and if it will be piloted on the south side?”

To ask the City Manager for a report on the possibility of a house being built without any planning permission to the rear of, (details supplied). I did enquire about this property to DCC last year (2009).

“To ask the City Manager to arrange for a couple of bollards to be placed on the green area outside, (details supplied), as there is a postbox located there and cars/vehicles have the green destroyed. There is also a problem with vehicles pulling up and obstructing entrances and exits of properties nearby.”

“To ask the City Manager to look at the placing of a bollard in the centre of the path at the bottom of the ramp facing, (details supplied).”

“The issue of coach parking in, (details supplied), is currently being investigated by the Traffic Division in consultation with other parties. A report will be forwarded to the Central Area Committee in due course.”

“To ask the City Manager if there are plans to improve the street lighting along, (details supplied), as lighting there at present is very weak. Could he also please investigate the possibility of having CCTV installed at the end of the Avenue near the, (details supplied).”

Not included are examples of personal details or details of the council’s tenants — these should not be included. There even could be reasons why some of the above examples should be kept hidden, but all of them? It’s not top secret stuff, nor is there likely to be any wrongdoing in the above, but why are the details hidden?

For open, transparent government at all levels, it’s not just improvements in the Freedom of Information Act which is needed, much more is. It is a sad state of affairs when the council uses the equivalent of a black pen written answers attached to its own minutes.

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