Sanction for lobbyists proposed
LOBBYISTS SHOULD be obliged to follow a statutory code of conduct and face sanctions such as fines or suspensions from their activities for breaches of those regulations, according to a policy paper published yesterday.
The paper, Regulation of Lobbying Policy Proposals, recommends that lobbyists disclose their contacts with TDs and senior civil servants. It also says public servants or ministers should observe a two-year cooling-off period before they work in any area with a potential conflict of interest with their former area of employment.
The proposals suggest the drawing up of a comprehensive definition explaining exactly what activities represent lobbying in order to avoid loopholes or confusion.
Those engaging in the practice should be obliged to register and also state the bodies they are working on behalf of and the policy or legislative areas they are interested in, it said. The proposed new rules would cover organisations including charities and professional bodies as well commercial lobbyists who make representations to politicians and civil servants regarding policies or prospective decisions.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, who published the paper, said the Government was keen to bring “greater openness and transparency” to the interactions between the political and administrative systems and those who seek to influence policy. He said the preparation of an outline scheme of a Lobbying Bill had commenced and that he planned to publish the Bill early in 2013.