First report shows influence of lobbying on policy decisions in Ireland

U2 lead singer Bono appears on publicly searchable lobbying database

The Standards Commission has released their first annual report showing the extent and nature of Irish lobbyists' attempts to influence decisions on public policy.

Under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, those who lobby designated public officials are required to register and report on their lobbying activities every four months. A return must also be made in the event of no lobbying activities.

The first returns covers lobbying activities that took place between September 1st and December 31st 2015.

Information supplied to the register is also available for inspection by all members of the public at www.lobbying.ie.

Speaking about the first report Commission Chairman Daniel O’Keeffe said: “The results we have seen to date are a very positive indicator that there is an acceptance of the need for openness and transparency in lobbying.”

The official report shows that the top public policy area cited in returns was Health (312 returns) followed by Justice and Equality (183), and Finance. The area of education received 120 returns.

Through the online search facility, which shows more up to date returns, the area of Health is still top of the table with 541 returns submitted. Justice and Equality (291), and Agriculture (266) are in second and third place, while Finance returns are much lower at 116 returns.

Paul Hewson (aka Bono) was among those who lobbied under the category of Economic Development and Industry, as he appealed to Labour TD Alan Kelly to increase Government support for the concept of a world class film studio based in Dublin.

Dáil Éireann is currently the most frequently lobbied state body, with over 1,000 returns recorded.

IBEC (the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation) recorded the highest number of returns made by them to designated public bodies at 190, with the Construction Industry Federation the next highest at 182.

Other organisations include The Irish Refugee Council (29 returns), Simon Communities in Ireland (26 returns), Alcohol Action Ireland (20 returns), and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (16 returns).

Speaking about the annual report the Head of the first Lobbying Regulation Sherry Perreault said it "marks an important milestone in the evolution of ethics regulation in Ireland.

"It is clear that our efforts to build awareness and understanding of the Act have resulted in the high level of registration and returns so far.

"While we are very pleased with the early results, there is still work to be done to ensure that all those lobbying are aware of their obligations under the Act.”