Standards in Public Office Commission publishes its 2019 Annual Report under the Regulation of Lobbying Act
Thursday 25 June 2020: Today the Standards in Public Office Commission published its 2019 Annual Report under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. The report covers the Commission’s activities in administering the Act for the 2019 reporting year, including enforcement activities undertaken during the year.
As evidenced by registration and return figures, the Register of Lobbying has continued to grow slightly, with 160 new registrants in 2019 and nearly 10,000 returns submitted. This brings the number of registrants to over 1,900, and more than 40,000 returns have been submitted to date. This stabilisation in numbers over the past year is indicative of the lifecycle of lobbying as new registrants come into the system while others cease lobbying.
2019 returns showed that health continued to be the policy area most lobbied about, followed by: economic development and industry, agriculture, justice and equality, and housing.
On the enforcement front, the Commission had its first conviction under section 20(1) of the Act, for failure to submit returns of lobbying activity. The Commission also levied 290 fixed payment notices for late returns – a 44% decrease from the previous year, showing increased compliance by registrants. The Commission also launched 22 investigations into possible unreported or unregistered lobbying activities under section 19 of the Act.
Despite the current COVID-19 crisis, the Commission is pleased to see ongoing high levels of compliance with the Register of Lobbying. Head of Ethics and Lobbying Regulation Sherry Perreault said,
Since its inception, the regulation of lobbying has been managed largely through online systems. This has proved to be of great benefit in the current crisis. The work of lobbying itself also continues, while the mechanisms have shifted, of necessity, much more toward phone calls, emails and video chats in lieu of face-to-face meetings. It is at times like this that we see in stark relief how significant a role lobbying plays in influencing public debate and decision-making. Lobbying continues to be a legitimate and important tool in decision-making processes. As ever, it must continue to be transparent, and those who lobby must continue to comply with the obligations to register and submit returns of their lobbying activities.
For more information, and to read the Commission's 2019 annual report on the Regulation of Lobbying, including its companion publication “Highlights of the 2019 Annual Report”, visit the website www.lobbying.ie.
For further information please contact:
Standards in Public Office Commission
6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773
(01) 639 5722
On 1 September 2015, the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 commenced, and with it, the requirement for those who lobby designated public officials to register and report on their lobbying activities every four months. The enforcement provisions of the Act commenced subsequently, on 1 January 2017.
Information submitted to the Register is available for public inspection at www.lobbying.ie. The website, which includes the online register, also has a suite of information tools designed to help lobbyists, designated public officials and the public to fully understand the Act and its obligations.
The Standards in Public Office Commission was created in 2001, and oversees legislation governing ethics in public office, electoral finance, expenditure of State funding, and the regulation of lobbying. In 2015, the Commission appointed Sherry Perreault as Ireland’s first Head of Lobbying Regulation.