Ibec to shield members’ identities when lobbying for them

Employers’ group chief executive sends email on publication of new disclosure law

Ibec, the employers’ representative group, has assured members it won’t reveal their identities under a new disclosure regime if it lobbies politicians or civil servants on their behalf.

New rules for the lobbying of public officials came into force on Tuesday. These require most companies and organisations that lobby public officials to register and publicly record the purpose of such meetings.

Danny McCoy, the chief executive of Ibec, this week emailed its members to say the body would effectively keep their names out of it.

He said Ibec would “take responsibility for returning details [to the public register] of lobbying we undertake on your behalf”. This would mean Ibec is recorded on the register as having lobbied, rather than any named company whose interests might be affected.

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"Importantly, lobbying carried out through Ibec will be registered as an Ibec activity and details of the members we are representing will not [his emphasis] be disclosed.".

Direct lobbying

Executives who hold Ibec titles won’t have their identities or those of their companies revealed when lobbying officials.

Mr McCoy said the names of Ibec officeholders derived from industry who engaged in “direct lobbying”, such as sector chairpersons or council or committee members, “will not be disclosed” because Ibec “will register that activity”.

“If your business is involved in direct lobbying on relevant matters covered by the Act, then we strongly advise that you get advice from Ibec as the penalties and reputational damage could be substantial for non compliance,” he wrote.

Siobhán Masterson, Ibec’s head of corporate affairs, said it does not lobby on behalf of individual firms, but on behalf of “business collectively” or on issues affecting specific sectors.

“The issue of individual companies using Ibec as a lobbying firm to represent exclusive company-specific interests does not arise,” she said. Asked if this was consistent with Mr McCoy’s promise that it would not reveal the “details of the members we are representing”, Ibec replied it “doesn’t accept there is any inconsistency”.

Asked if representative groups shielding the identities of members when lobbying was a gap in the system, Sherry Perreault, the public official who is effectively the new lobbying regulator, would not comment directly. She pointed out, however, that a body can lobby on behalf of its members under the new rules.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column