UK lobbyists have it easy compared to the Irish

Unlike in Ireland, only third-party lobbyists are covered by the British system

Sean Aylward:  lobbied for Honorable Society of King’s Inns

Sean Aylward: lobbied for Honorable Society of King’s Inns

 

There has been some private wailing and gnashing of teeth from some professional lobbyists in Ireland, following last week’s bursting into life of the new public disclosure regime and lobbying register.

The relative robustness of the new Irish regime, which requires the disclosure of details of almost every bit of written or verbal lobbying of any public official, is in stark contrast with the regime introduced last year in Britain.

UK critics of the new system there this week described it as “feeble” and “bogus”. Unlike in Ireland, only third-party lobbyists are covered by the British system, leaving in-house public affairs officials to escape the net.

Professional lobbyists in the UK can also escape having to file returns, which are so devoid of detail anyway as to be practically meaningless, if they say they only drafted a communication that was then sent in by their client.

In Ireland, every group that engages in lobbying, third-party or otherwise, must disclose its activities on a quarterly basis, including the aim it was trying to achieve.

Most law firms in the UK, for example, appear to have ignored its lobbying register, while their Irish brethren were forced to sign up to the system here.

Meanwhile, the deadline for initial returns to the Irish register expired over a week ago, but there were some interesting late arrivals in recent days.

The Honorable Society of King’s Inns, the body that educates barristers, disclosed on Wednesday lobbying activities on legal reform undertaken by its chief executive, former secretary general of the Department of Justice, Sean Aylward.

Vape Business Ireland, an e-cigarette industry group whose members include the country’s biggest traditional tobacco companies, was also in to lobby TDs over regulation of vaping. It also filed on Wednesday.

Better late than never.

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