What is Lobbying?
For the purposes of the Act, persons are carrying on lobbying activities if they meet all of the following conditions:
- They are communicating either directly or indirectly with a “Designated Public Official”; and
- That communication is about “a relevant matter”; and
- That communication is not specifically exempted; and
- They are one of the following:
- An employer with more than 10 employees where the communications are made on the employer’s behalf;
- A representative body with at least one employee communicating on behalf of its members and the communication is made by a paid employee or paid office holder of the body;
- An advocacy body with at least one employee that exists primarily to take up particular issues and a paid employee or paid office holder of the body is communicating on such issues;
- A professional lobbyist being paid to communicate on behalf of a client (where the client is an employer of more than 10 full time employees or is a representative body or an advocacy body which has at least one full-time employee);
- Any person communicating about the development or zoning of land. Separate guidelines have been developed on lobbying activity regarding the development or zoning of land and are available online at www.lobbying.ie.
It is worth noting that not all communication is considered lobbying for the purposes of the Act. A number of exemptions exist, and a communication must meet the above criteria to be considered lobbying. In particular, a significant amount of constituency clinic communications will be exempt where the matter relates to an individual’s private affairs or is communications by a micro-business with less than 10 employees. More information on what is considered a relevant matter follows.
It is also worth noting that not all lobbying takes place in a formal setting or using formal means. While a great deal of lobbying may take place via in-person meetings, telephone calls or emails, lobbying can also take place in less formal ways. These include casual encounters, social gatherings, or even social media. If the communication meets the above criteria, it is considered lobbying and must be recorded.