Irish lobbyists paying over €5m to sway EU
Annual spend reveals extent of efforts to influence policy
Published 16/03/2014 | 02:30
IRISH lobbying groups, PR firms and multinational giants based here are spending more than €5m each year on its operations that lobby MEPs and European Union institutions, the Sunday Independent has learned.
The significant spend by Irish firms reveals the extensive efforts they are making in trying to influence policy decisions.
Many international corporations, including Pfizer, Procter and Gamble and Facebook, which have major operations in Ireland, also spend millions each year in order to sway decision makers in Brussels.
The Sunday Independent has identified almost 30 major Irish lobby firms and trade union organisations that are listed on the EU's Transparency lobbying register.
However, because of a lack of adequate legislation the figures do not state how much the firms spend lobbying the Irish Government in Dublin.
Damning recent revelations about how former Rehab CEO and Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery was paid to lobby the Government on behalf of the charity has heaped further pressure on the Coalition to deliver on its promise of lobbying legislation, which would see a Brussels-style register introduced here.
The Skill Set, owned by former Fianna Fail European Affairs Minister Dick Roche, spent between €150,000 and €200,000 of its turnover lobbying EU institutions on behalf of his clients.
Since leaving office, Mr Roche has established himself as a major lobbyist for tech firms. Among his clients are consultants Deloitte, Huawei and Pannonia.
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Hume Brophy, one of Dublin's leading PR and lobbying firms, recorded a turnover of between €2.25m and €2.5m relating to "representing interests to EU institutions on behalf of clients", according to its declaration to the Transparency register for the financial year up to last August.
As an illustration of its extensive lobbying activities, Hume Brophy has 20 people accredited for access to the European Parliament building on behalf of clients, which include the International Rugby Board, Burger King, Bank of New York Mellon, Deloitte and Adobe systems.
Philanthropy Ireland, from which Mr Flannery resigned last week, said it used up to €50,000 of a €450,000 budget on lobbying.
Edelman, which is chaired by former Fianna Fail TD and rugby player Jim Glennon and also employs former Fine Gael TD Olwyn Enright, spent between €1.5m and €1.75m on lobbying last year.
Policy Action, another lobby firm with a Dublin presence, under the direction of partner Lucy C Cronin, spent from €800,000 to €900,000 on lobbying in Europe.
Facebook Ireland, which has a keen interest in legislation governing privacy, technology, human rights and ecommerce, has two designated lobbyists in Europe and spent from €400,000 to €450,000 on lobbying last year.
Diageo, the parent company of Guinness, said it spent between €450,000 and €500,000 last year lobbying EU institutions.
Porter Novelli, the parent company of Drury Communications, spent between €50,000 and €100,000 on lobbying last year.
Interestingly, a number of Irish organisations that handled their lobbying in-house also appear on the list.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions spent from €150,000 to €200,000 lobbying the EU institutions, according to its declaration, while the Irish Banking Federation spent between €100,000 and €150,000.
Other names on the list include Irish Ferries, the Irish Tax Institute, the Irish Pharmacy Union, and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association.
It is clear that many Irish firms that are engaged in lobbying in Europe are not yet signed up to the register.