Advisory Group Meeting - 1 October 2015

Record of main issues


Attendance List –

Sherry Perreault, (Chairperson), SIPOC, Damien Egan, SIPOC, Pádraig Grant, SIPOC, Áine Stapleton, Dept PER, Madeleine Delaney, Ombudsman’s Office, Martin Wallace, Dovetail, Jim O’Keeffe, SIPOC.

Ivan Cooper, The Wheel, Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland, Denis Barry, Revenue Commissioners, John Carroll, PRII & PRCA, Elaine Farrell, IFA, Jim Keogan, CCMA, Bryan Rankin, Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, Martin Lambe, Irish Tax Institute, Pat Galvin, Eircom, Sheila Norden, ICTR, Niall Shanahan, IMPACT, Siobhán Masterson, IBEC, Paul Gordon, Irish Cancer Society, Shirley Coulter, Bar Council.

Sherry Perreault provided an update on events since the last meeting.

  • All letters have now issued to the top 1000 companies.
  • An extensive outreach programme is ongoing and SIPO have spoken at numerous events across the country.
  • A number of open house information sessions have taken place in the SIPO offices. These events have been well attended and informative. The next session is due to take place next week and more sessions may take place in the future depending on demand.
  • Most parliamentary political parties have agreed to schedule a briefing session on the Act.
  • The Group felt that, if possible, and in addition to the advertising campaign, it would be worthwhile if more media coverage could be arranged during this period between the commencement of the Act in September and the first returns being made in January.
  • It was suggested that it might be worthwhile to hold an information session for journalists on the Act and the workings of the Register prior to the January returns deadline.
  • The Group asked if any research had been conducted in relation to levels of knowledge amongst particular business sectors. It was stated that no research has been conducted at this point but it is something which SIPO may examine after all outreach has been conducted and after the first return period.
  • The Group stressed that it would be beneficial if SIPO could produce examples and case studies of what is lobbying. SIPO will endeavour to do this over time. Group members will forward reoccurring questions to SIPO to help facilitate this.
  • The Group asked that additional guidance material be added to the website clarifying matters areas as parliamentary questions, think tanks and the definition of what is a relevant matter.
  • There was a discussion amongst the Group in relation to levels of awareness amongst certain business sectors. SIPO will endeavour to identify business groups which have not been reached yet through the outreach programme and facilitate information sessions for them.
  • Dept PER stated that they have been doing a lot of work contacting DPOs to make them aware of their status as DPOs.
  • Members of the Group stated that they believe there are a number of groups with access to DPOs that will not be captured by the Act. DPER and SIPO will monitor this.
  • The Group highlighted that there are some registrants on the live Register with mistakes in their registration details. SIPO are aware of this and have begun contacting registrants whom they believe may need to amend their registration details.
  • The Group sought an update in relation to the bulk upload facility. This facility is currently being tested and members can email SIPO for further details.
  • It was confirmed that the Advisory Group is subject to the Transparency Code and these minutes will be published on the website.
  • The Group sought clarification on what will happen if SIPO receive reports of potential lobbying activities which have not been registered. SIPO are still in the process of developing their processes for such an event.
  • The Group stated that there is a concern that in the first year there may be negative implications for those that comply with the Act versus those that choose to ignore it because of the lack of penalties.
  • A concern was raised about overseas lobbying. The Group are seeking great clarity and awareness on this issue, particularly on what defines lobbying inside or outside of jurisdiction. This is an issue which Dept PER and SIPO are aware of. Further guidance will be developed on the issue and great understanding will result from individual cases.
  • The Group felt that a lack of uniformity with the returns may have an impact on the effectiveness of the Register.
  • SIPO informed the Group that the Zoning and Development guidelines have been updated, primarily based on communications with Local Authorities and they will shortly be published online.
  • Dept PER informed the Group that since the last meeting the two Statutory Instruments have been signed and that the Panel of Appeal Officers has also been established.
  • The Group identified a potential issue with delayed publication requests all arriving on the last day of the return period thus causing administrative issues for SIPO. It was suggested that applications should be allowed throughout the return period but with an effective date from the last day of the return period. SIPO will monitor this and may include it in the legislative review.
  • Further guidance and clarity was also sought in relation to the timelines for former DPOs receiving clearance from SIPO, as well as clarity on how ‘connected’ would be defined. Dept PER will share the policy decisions on this with SIPO.

Next Meeting – November 11th at 2pm