Common Pitfalls: Things to watch for when doing your first return
1) One subject, one return
You do not need to file a separate return for every communication. When completing a lobbying return, ensure that you amalgamate all activities in support of the same subject matter into one single return. This means that you should include all emails, phone calls, meetings etc. into the same return where they relate to the same subject. To do so, select “Add activity”, as many times as necessary to capture all of your activities.
2) List the right Designated Public Official
Ensure that you are selecting the right Designated Public Official. You should be able to cross-check the name and the organisation that you lobbied. If you are unsure of a name, check the list posted by the public body on their website to confirm a DPO’s identity.
3) Include a meaningful intended result
Make sure that the intended result you include in your return is a meaningful one, and identifies what it is you are actually seeking. Is it more funding? A regulatory change? It is not sufficient to say that you are seeking "to raise matters of interest to our organisation". To be a “relevant matter” that must be reported, it must be that you are seeking to communicate about:
- The development, initiation or modification of any public policy, programme or legislation,
- The award of any public funding (grants, bursaries, contracts etc.), or
- Zoning or development.
You must identify what it is you are seeking, for example “Seeking a change to transport regulations” or “Demonstrating the benefits of our community program in order to seek continued/additional funding”.
4) Watch out for exempt matters
Keep in mind when compiling your return that a number of matters are considered exempt and communicating about them would not be considered lobbying. For example, an individual’s private affairs (such as seeking a medical card, trying to access social housing etc.) would be exempt. Any communications about an implementation matter would also be exempt. For example, putting in an application for an existing program, where you are communicating with a department to try to get the application approved but not seeking to change or modify the program/policy, would be exempt.
For a full list of what is exempt, click here https://www.lobbying.ie/help-resources/information-for-lobbyists/guidelines-for-people-carrying-on-lobbying-activities/are-you-affected-by-the-legislation/#E.
5) Not all communications are relevant communications
In order to be considered lobbying, a communication must meet ALL THREE of the following criteria (not just one or two of them):
- It must be made by a person who falls within the scope of the Act,
- That person must be communicating with a designated public official, and
- It must be about a relevant matter.
The quickest way to determine whether you are lobbying is to take the Three Step Test. You may also wish to consult our Guidance for people undertaking lobbying activities.