The Standards in Public Office Commission comments on Second Review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015
Tuesday 25 February 2020: Today the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published its report of the Second Review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act. The Standards Commission welcomes the publication of the report into the operation of the Act, which the Commission has administered since its commencement in 2015.
The Register of Lobbying now has nearly 2,000 registrants from all sectors of the Irish economy, and more than 40,000 returns in the system. These figures reflect the scope and importance of lobbying in the decision-making process and the ever-increasing awareness of the Act and its obligations. While the Act is generally operating well, the Commission has identified a number of areas of the Act that would benefit from amendment or clarification, as well as areas where the Act is silent and provision may be needed.
The Commission made a submission to the review that included 22 separate recommendations in respect of the Act’s definitions, operations, post-employment obligations, enforcement and various other matters. If adopted, the Commission is of the view that these recommendations would strengthen the operation of the Act, enhancing transparency and accountability.
Today’s report into the second review has not recommended any changes to the Act. The Commission is disappointed that none of its recommendations have been adopted.
The recommendations in the report suggest that most concerns about the legislation raised as part of the review process may be addressed through greater guidance and clarification by the Commission. While the Commission continues to engage in tailored outreach and regularly reviews and updates its guidance as needed, it is the Commission’s view that this does not accurately reflect the range of specific issues that can only be addressed through legislative amendment. This includes, for example, introducing enforcement powers for breaches of the Act’s post-employment provisions, as well as requiring public officials to decline further communications with persons who fail to comply with the Act.
The Commission will continue to flag issues where the Act may benefit from amendment or clarification as they arise.
For more information about the Commission’s role in regulating lobbying, and to read the Commission’s submission to the second legislative review, visit www.lobbying.ie.
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 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 an extensive suite of information tools designed to help lobbyists, designated public officials and the public to fully understand the Act and its obligations. Published tools include tailored guidelines, sample returns, instructional videos, information notes and frequently asked questions.
The Commission also conducts regular information sessions to inform stakeholders about the Act and its obligations, and has a support unit in place to answer queries from registrants and potential registrants.
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.
For further information please contact:
Standards in Public Office Commission
6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2
(01) 639 5722