Advisory Group Meeting – 27 July 2016

Record of main issues

Attendance List:

Sherry Perreault (Chairperson), Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPOC); Aidan Moore, SIPOC; Niamh O’Byrne, SIPOC; Ray Butler, SIPOC; Jim O’Keeffe, SIPOC; Bernie Orr, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER); Martin Wallace, Dovetail

Ivan Cooper, The Wheel; Sheila Nordon, ICTR; Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland; John Carroll, PRII & PRCA; Bryan Rankin, Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies; Siobhán Masterson, IBEC; Paul Gordon, Irish Cancer Society; Elaine Farrell, Irish Farmers’ Association; Cormac Ó’Cúláin, Law Society; Pat Galvin, Eircom; Shirley Coulter, Bar Council; Lughan Deane, IMPACT

Apologies: Sean O’Leary, Irish Planning Institute; Justice Daniel O’Keeffe, SIPOC; Madeleine Delaney, Legal Advisor; Joan Martin, CCMA; Denis Barry, Revenue Commissioners; Martin Lambe, Irish Tax Institute

  • Sherry Perreault provided an update on events since the last meeting:

o   Detailed the finalisation of the specifications for Phase 2, the commencement of the enforcement provisions. This will include an online payment feature, communications and awareness projects and the use of the website, social media and press releases. However, there will not be an advertising campaign to accompany this phase.

o   The plan is to make sure people are informed and know what they have to do rather than waiting until they make an error and then correcting them.

o   It was queried if a list of defaulters would be published. Sherry Perreault confirmed that this was not provided for in the Act.

  • Aidan Moore provided an update on the changes to the online system that have been identified and should be in place by the third deadline. It is anticipated that this will address most concerns. These include:

o   There will be a publish all button for submitting multiple returns

o   A PDF of published returns will be available

o   It will be possible to filter returns by returns period

o   The account administrator will be able to delete returns

o   There will be a search facility in the account dashboard area

  • Aidan Moore noted that there was a high number of non-returns at present. The unit intends to follow up on these in advance of the commencement of the enforcement provisions to raise awareness of the requirement to submit returns (including nil returns) at all deadlines.
  • It was suggested that there should be an option to declare that the lobbying activity was carried out for the company and by a consultant. This would meant the return would link all relevant parties to a single form. It was suggested that this may be possible by linking the CRO number instead of submitting multiple returns for the same item.

o   Aidan Moore will make note of this until the next tranche of technical updates

  • Bernie Orr (DPER) informed the Group that POs were not currently being considered for inclusion as DPOs however it would more than likely come up for discussion under the legislative review.
  • It is anticipated by DPER that the legislative review would be completed by February 2017.
  • On the topic of transparency codes, it was noted that not all working groups and fora are aware of the Lobbying Act 2015. It was suggested that further outreach be done.
  • The issue of lobbying outside of Ireland was raised. Sherry Perreault noted that this issue had been addressed several times and that the position of SIPOC had not changed. If anyone is aware of potential unregistered lobbying, they are welcome to raise it with SIPOC for follow-up.
  • It was agreed that a guidance note would be useful to explain obligations for state owned bodies where the minister is a shareholder.
  • The Advisory Group agreed not to pursue a joint submission to the legislative review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. Members of the group were encouraged to submit individual submissions to the review.

Next Meeting – Provisionally early October