Report into lobbying recommends two-year cooling-off period

Transparency International urges fines for officials who fail to comply with rulings

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has sponsored the Registration of Lobbying Bill 2014, which allows for a “cooling-off” period of one year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has sponsored the Registration of Lobbying Bill 2014, which allows for a “cooling-off” period of one year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

for former ministers and special advisers.

Transparency International will recommend that senior public officials should be required to receive permission from an independent oversight body before taking up a private sector position where a conflict of interest could be perceived.

“Penalties including fines and publication of the decision should be imposed on any former public official who fails to comply with the body’s ruling or to deliver information sought by it,” the report states.

“This would help address conflicts of interest and the ‘sale of expertise’ by retiring public servants to the private sector. It should also help build public confidence in the integrity of the public policy process.”

The report, Influence and Integrity: Lobbying and its Regulation in Ireland, will be launched this morning.

It is being published as Ireland’s first piece of lobbying-related legislation is under consideration by the Oireachtas.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has sponsored the Registration of Lobbying Bill 2014, which allows for a “cooling-off” period of one year.

The Transparency Ireland report says the Bill should be strengthened by “closing off potential loopholes” in the proposed legislation which the organisation argues “will diminish the potential” of the planned lobbying register.

A recommendation that policy submissions and documents which lobbyists have shared with public officials aimed at influencing legislation or government decisions should be published on the new register is included in the report.

It also says that financial data on sources of client or donor income should be shared by lobbyists with the Standards in Public Office Commission.