Standards in Public Office Commission publishes its 2020 Annual Report under the Regulation of Lobbying Act
Monday 28 June 2021: Today the Standards in Public Office Commission published its 2020 annual report under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. The report covers the Commission’s activities in administering the Act for the 2020 reporting year, including enforcement activities undertaken during the year.
During 2020, the total number of registrants on the register increased to 2,089, almost a 7% increase on 2019. In the first returns period of January to April 2020, the number of returns submitted was 3,324. However, the number of returns increased quite significantly for the second and third returns periods of the year, bringing the total number of returns to just over 11,600. The increase in returns submitted likely reflects lobbying due to the pandemic. Returns submitted for 2020 include 1,378 specifically referencing the pandemic (using the terms Covid-19, Covid 19 or Coronavirus), across most public policy areas.
In 2020, the Commission carried over from the previous year nine investigations into possible non-compliance with the Act, and launched three new investigations. Eleven investigations were closed over the year, and one investigation carried over to 2021. Separately, four files proceeded to prosecution: two for offences under section 20(1) of the Act, and two for offences under section 20(2) of the Act.
The Commission also reported that it received eight applications to waive or reduce the Act's post-employment provisions in 2020 – the highest single-year count to date, and all from former special advisers. Statistics on applications received since the Act’s commencement are included in the report.
Notwithstanding the difficulties posed by COVID-19, the Commission continues to see positive levels of compliance with the Register of Lobbying. Head of Ethics and Lobbying Regulation Sherry Perreault said,
The extraordinary impact that this pandemic has had in most areas of our lives also shows up on the Register of Lobbying. It has prompted unprecedented volumes of lobbying in virtually all policy areas – health care, economic development, recreation and sport, social supports, mental health and more have been the subject of Covid-related lobbying. Businesses, advocacy groups and associations impacted by the pandemic have sought to influence decisions on restrictions, funding supports and procurement. It has spurred into action people and organisations who have never before lobbied, and given a new focus for those who have done so for years.
Most importantly, it shows in stark relief not only the importance of lobbying, but the need for transparency about it. With so many engaging with public officials to advocate for a particular outcome, it is critical that the public have access to information about how decisions are being made.
For more information, and to read the Commission's 2020 annual report on the Regulation of Lobbying, including its companion publication “Highlights of the 2020 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.