Lobbying plays an important role in promoting effective public decision making. It helps ensure that policy formulation and development is fully informed. It is important, therefore, that all parties and interests have fair and equitable opportunities to communicate their ideas and concerns andto contribute to public decision making.
Lobbying is a term that has previously had some negative connotations due to a perception that some interests were having undue access to and influence on policy makers and legislators. The Regulation of Lobbying Act (the Act) seeks to make the lobbying process more transparent by allowing the public to know who is seeking to influence whom in respect of what in relation to public policy. This is achieved through an online Register of Lobbying www.lobbying.ie. Since the Register commenced operations on 1 September 2015 over 1,750 persons have registered on the Register and over 27,000 returns of lobbying activity have been received.
While the Act and the introduction of the online Register has made lobbying more transparent, it does not address the manner in which such lobbying activities are conducted. Section 16 of the Act provides for a Code of Conduct for persons carrying on lobbying activities. The purpose of the Code is to seek to ensure that lobbying is carried out in an ethical manner that reinforces the objectives of the Act.
It is intended that the Code should complement the provisions of the Act and the effective operation of the online register. The Code aims to do this by providing a template for carrying on lobbying activities according to generally accepted principles. The Code will help to address the public’s expectation that lobbying activities will be carried out ethically and transparently. It will also help to ensure that elected or appointed public officials who are approached by persons carrying on lobbying activities are able to readily establish whose interests the person represents and the outcome they are seeking to achieve.