Full Uber contacts with government not disclosed in lobbying returns

US firm’s former lobbyist John Moran, former Department of Finance secretary general, says he fully disclosed Uber role but will correct returns if required

The Uber Files: Former Department of Finance secretary general John Moran who lobbied for Uber, his former boss at the department Michael Noonan, and then Fine Gael taoiseach Enda Kenny. Illustration: Paul Scott

US cab-hailing firm Uber and its Irish representative John Moran did not disclose discussions on the future of the business with top Government and Civil Service figures in legal filings to the official lobbying register.

Statutory returns covering political contacts by US cab-hailing company in 2015 and 2016 show specific meetings with then taoiseach Enda Kenny, members of his cabinet and a senior civil servant were not declared, even though they feature in leaked Uber records.

The official lobbying register shows RHH International - the consultancy owned by former Department of Finance secretary general John Moran - did not declare contacts with former ministers Michael Noonan and Frances Fitzgerald, and senior civil servant Graham Doyle concerning Uber business that he cited in his own contacts with the California-based tech multinational.

Neither did Uber disclose top-level contacts with Mr Kenny at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2016 in its own lobbying returns.

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Responding to Irish Times reports on the Uber leaks, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there should be greater transparency around lobbying between Government and business in the wake of the disclosures revealed in the so-called Uber Files.

He said he found revelations about Mr Moran suggesting that he could drop notes about Uber into Mr Noonan’s Limerick home on a Sunday, if required, or that the then minister could be found in two named pubs he visited in the city “a bit odd”.

“I would have thought that most people in Limerick knew where Michael Noonan had his clinics, as I do most TDs in this country. I found that bit bizarre,” he said.

The company’s behind-the-scenes dealings are revealed in an unprecedented leak of more than 124,000 files to the Guardian newspaper in Britain and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which includes The Irish Times.

Irish career lobbyist Mark MacGann yesterday came forward as the whistleblower behind the leaking of internal files, saying that he was speaking out now to help governments and parliamentarians “right some fundamental wrongs” about Uber.

MacGann, the 52-year-old career lobbyist, worked as a senior executive and chief lobbyist in Europe for the firm. He was actively involved in lobbying Irish government ministers and officials in 2015 and 2016.

“I regret being part of a group of people which massaged the facts to earn the trust of drivers, of consumers and of political elites,” he told the Guardian.

In response to questions from The Irish Times, Mr Moran said: “Anyone who reads the details of the returns I made can see I fully disclosed my role.”

He cited provisions in lobbying law where certain contacts were exempt from being disclosed.

“I believe I was wholly transparent under categories of ‘lobbying’ or providing ‘factual information’, ‘implementation matters’ and others,” he said.

“If the regulator believes I made any errors at all, I am more than happy to correct them.”

Uber said that it has never been the company’s intention to lobby officials covertly.

Fine Gael 20016 election manifesto was cited in the Uber Files ICIJ investigation
Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times