Cooling-off Period

The Act provides that certain DPOs are restricted from being engaged in lobbying in certain circumstances for a year after they leave their employment or office. In effect, they are subject to a “cooling-off” period in respect of involvement in particular lobbying activities.

 

The DPOs concerned are Ministers and Ministers of State, special advisers to Ministers and Ministers of State and prescribed public servants.  (These are referred to hereafter as “relevant DPOs”.)  Others who are DPOs for the purposes of the lobbying registration requirements are not covered by this provision, that is, TDs, Senators, MEPs and Local Authority members.

 

The public officials who are covered by this provision may not

  • carry on lobbying activities or
  • be employed by, or provide services to, a person carrying on lobbying activities in certain circumstances.

 

These circumstances are where the lobbying activity

  • Involves any public service body with which the relevant DPO was connected, that is, employed or held an office or other position in the year prior to his/her leaving, or
  • Is to a person who was also a DPO connected with that public service body in the year prior to the relevant DPO’s leaving.

 

Relevant DPOs may apply to the Commission for consent to engage in such lobbying.  The Commission may decide to give consent unconditionally or give consent with conditions attached or refuse the application for all or part of the period.

 

A relevant DPO who is unhappy with the decision may appeal the decision of the Commission to an independent Appeal Officer.

 

The Commission has published a guidance note on Section 22 of the Act.  The guidance note sets out the requirements of Section 22; the information the Commission may seek when it receives an application for consent; and the criteria which the Commission may take into account when considering an application for consent.