Lobbyists query reporting proposal

PR agencies seek level playing field for registration under new transparency bill

Heneghan PR’s Nigel Heneghan: Regulation of Lobbying Bill 2013 a little heavy on the red tape

Heneghan PR’s Nigel Heneghan: Regulation of Lobbying Bill 2013 a little heavy on the red tape

 

Lobbying has “become a dirty word”, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin lamented shortly after he produced the heads of the Regulation of Lobbying Bill 2013 in April.

But the reputational clean-up exercise won’t come before the Dáil before the new year, with the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform currently charged with the task of assessing about 80 submissions to its pre-legislative deliberations from interested parties.

Heavy on red tape
The Public Relations Consultants’ Association (PRCA) has argued in its submission that a requirement for registered lobbyists to report a minimum of three times a year on their activities might be a little heavy on the red tape – the bill calls for returns to be filed within 15 working days of the end of April, August and December.

“We have said we think that is a bit cumbersome,” says PRCA chairman Nigel Heneghan.

However, the “key element” of the submission made by the PRCA , which represents 31 agencies, many of which have public affairs divisions, is a call for “an open and level playing field” when it comes to those who are required to register.

“We don’t believe the legal profession or the accounting profession should be able to claim client privilege in relation to this legislation,” says Mr Heneghan, the managing director of Heneghan PR.

“Lobbying should be open and transparent for everybody.”