Cooling-off Period

The Act provides that certain Designated Public Officials 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 Designated Public Officials concerned are Ministers and Ministers of State, special advisers to Ministers and Ministers of State and prescribed public servants (Section 22(2)). Others who are Designated Public Officials 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 public official 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 Designated Public Official connected with that public service body in the year prior to the first public official’s leaving.

Designated public officials subject to this provision may apply to the Standards Commission for consent to engage in such lobbying. The Standards Commission may decide to give consent unconditionally or give consent with conditions attached or refuse the application for all or part of the period (Section 22(5)).

A public official who is unhappy with the decision may appeal the decision of the Standards Commission to an independent Appeal Officer.