The introduction of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 on 1 September 2015 was a significant development in transparency reforms in Ireland and was the subject of significant media coverage. Now that we are in the second reporting period for the purposes of the Act, it is appropriate to reflect on the first few months of its operation.
To date, 1,193 entities have registered as lobbyists, and these registered entities have recorded 2,742 lobbying communications. Some interesting statistics emerge as follows:
"Health" has by far been the most lobbied public policy area, with 315 returns; "Health" has also been the industry area most commonly identified with by registrants with 98 organisations registered; When the public policy areas of "Economic Development and Industry", "Tax", and "Finance" are considered together, there have been 322 communications the subject of a return; and 63 organisations consider themselves to be "lobbying organisations". In addition, the Advisory Group which advised in relation to the drafting of the Lobbying Act and which remains in place to advise on amendments to the Lobbying Act, has met four times since 1 September 2015. Some points of note from their discussions are:
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Standards in Public Office Commission ("SIPO") are considering the application of the Lobbying Act to communications which take place outside the Irish jurisdiction. We understand that formal guidance on this issue may be issued by SIPO in the future. SIPO is developing processes for situations where SIPO receives a report of potential lobbying activities which have not been registered. Concerns had been raised regarding whether a charity might lose its charitable status by engaging in lobbying. SIPO has clarified that an organisation does not risk its charitable status...