Wednesday 21 March 2018

Could you be in breach of lobbying rules?

Dónal Nolan

Everyone dealing with politicians and public officials on matters from planning to funding projects are being warned to register their communications as the State tightens its regulation of lobbying activity.

The warning comes as county-by-county figures were released on Monday, revealing that just over one in every 5,000 people in County Cork is registered as a lobbyist. While the population of County Cork accounts for 11.4 per cent of the national population, just 6.4 per cent of those currently on the lobbying register nationally are from Cork - that's 102 declared lobbyists out of a population of 542,196. It either means very few of us lobby our local representatives and public officials or that very few have yet registered.

This compares to 984 registered lobbyists in Dublin where the lion's share of such activity can be found. Yet while Cork's figure may seem small compared to the capital, there is even more apathy in neighbouring Kerry where there are just 19 registered lobbyists, Waterford has 24, Limerick 29 and Tipperary just 19.

Ireland's first Head of Lobbying Regulation Sherry Perreault is urging those who communicate with the local authorities and public officials to consider whether they need to register and if so to do so before September 21.

"More than 60 per cent of registrants are based in Dublin which is not surprising. Dublin is where many public officials are based, and is the headquarters of many organisations who are lobbying them.

"Yet bearing in mind that the Act covers lobbying about local authority matters including planning as well as national matters, it is surprising to see such low numbers of registrants in counties outside Dublin l."