Belfast Telegraph

An information office? Better keep that one quiet

By Lindy McDowell

Startling news story of the week — the report about how a member of staff in the Information Commissioner's Office in Belfast has been stood down for allegedly leaking details of an investigation.

Laying aside the obvious irony of a worker in an Information Commission being reprimanded for leaking well, information, the most surprising aspect of this story (for me, anyway) was an Information Commissioner's Office — who knew we had one?

According to the er, information on the ICO website, among other aims the Office is responsible for “fostering awareness of information rights.”

Did you know? I didn't. Surely a failure of fostering awareness about information there...

But then, should we be surprised by the existence of an Information Commissioner's Office?

After all, in Northern Ireland we appear to have more commissions and quangos than you could shake a mission statement at.

The Decommissioning Commission may have decommissioned itself, but we still have a Parades Commission, an Equality Commission and a Human Rights Commission, a Children's Commission and a Victims’ Commission. And on and on and on.

Given all the councillors, MLAs and MPs we’ve got, why do we need all these commissions? And how much do they cost us in total?

Does anyone (the Information Commissioner even) really know?

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