Lobbying register set up by Irish Govt aims for more transparency

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The dark art of lobbying is about to be given a 21st century upgrade in the form of an online lobbying register that will require lobbyists to register all activity from 1 September.

Lobbyists will be required by law to register lobbying activity from 1 September and make returns of lobbying activity every four months. The first returns will be due by 21 January 2016.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin TD said the new register was needed, especially in light of the negative connotations associated with lobbying in the planning area.

“However, it is the secrecy which has characterised some of this lobbying activity in the past that has been problematic. This has led to concerns as highlighted by the Mahon Tribunal that private interests weigh more strongly in some decisions than the wider public interest.”

No more secrecy

“The extent of lobbying activity is a good measure of an engaged citizenry but it should be open to public scrutiny as part of the desirable checks and balances in a democracy. Transparency is our strongest weapon in discouraging attempts to seek to exert undue or improper influence on the conduct of policy formulation.

“There is a strong public interest in identifying ‘who is lobbying whom about what’. My intention in designing and guiding this legislation to enactment was specifically to achieve this goal.

“The web-based registration system that we are launching with our colleagues in the Standards Commission will bring that aspiration to reality,” Howlin said.

Legal image via Shutterstock

 

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com