In something of a pivotal year for the tech industry, the past few months have certainly proved active times for its lobbyists in Ireland, if the flurry of returns to the State’s lobbying register is anything to go by. Most Big Tech names made multiple returns ahead of the September 21st deadline, flagging up the main areas of concern keeping their corporate affairs personnel in jobs.
Meta Platforms Ireland, for example, made six returns for the May 1st to August 31st period. The company previously known as Facebook was keen that designated public officials (politicians and civil servants), including Government Ministers in some instances, were aware of its position on subjects such as EU-US data transfers, the Electoral Reform Bill, proposed EU regulation on the detection of child sexual abuse material and the use of the 6GHz radio spectrum.
It also wanted Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, to be up to speed on Meta’s “vision for the metaverse” in the hope that this might help position Ireland “as a front-runner in immersive technologies”.
Google Ireland was almost as busy, with five returns covering topics including Ireland’s national digital strategy, the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, the Electoral Reform Bill and Google’s “policy roadmap for achieving 24/7 carbon-free energy and how this might translate to the Irish market”.
Cloud market operator Amazon Web Services (AWS) had four returns, including one documenting its letter to the chief procurement officer about “the need for cloud procurement reform to enable Government digital transformation” and one updating Department of Environment officials on what it called “the positive impact of AWS investment in Ireland, energy and data centre development policy and investment in grid infrastructure”.
The data centre issue, increasingly thorny in light of energy supply wobbles, also seemed close to the heart of Microsoft Ireland, which filed a modest three returns, two of them aiming to “raise awareness” of the apparent importance of data centres to the Irish economy.
Intel Ireland was the market leader, however, with nine returns. It was also the only one to report direct access to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, after its chief global operations officer Keyvan Esfarjani ran into him at an IDA-hosted dinner at the elite World Economic Forum shindig in Davos, Switzerland, in May and took the opportunity to have some “semiconductor ecosystem” chat. Good times.