INTERNATIONAL: Irish lobbyist register criticised by institute

DUBLIN: The Public Relations Institute of Ireland has criticised plans put to the Irish Parliament, the Dail, to create a register of interests for lobbyists and political journalists.

DUBLIN: The Public Relations Institute of Ireland has criticised

plans put to the Irish Parliament, the Dail, to create a register of

interests for lobbyists and political journalists.



The plan, proposed last month by the select committee on members’

interests, would see professionals in these fields fall within the scope

of regulations for members of parliament and civil servants.



Lobbyists have welcomed the move to certify their profession in this

way, but do not wish to open their financial affairs to the same

scrutiny as those elected to public office.



The President of the Irish PR institute, Nigel Heneghan, commented: ’I

don’t see why it is necessary that members of the PR profession in this

country should be required to declare their interests. The operators in

the PR business are already well regulated.’



The institute has no national guidelines for how the industry operates

in Ireland, but it does ask members to adhere to ethical guidelines

drawn up at international PR conferences.



The institute represents individuals, and its membership includes

lobbyists.



John Saunders, managing director of Ireland’s largest public affairs

agency, Fleishman-Hillard Saunders, is a member.



Fine Gael Senator Maurice Manning, who is a member of the members’

interests committee, said: ’We decided it would be fair to bring

political journalists, lobbyists and consultants within the terms of

reference. It is really to acknowledge the fact that, in shaping public

policy, lobbyists and journalists can be as influential as

politicians.’



There has been growing concern in the Republic over the last two years

about politicians and officials leaving government and immediately

taking work as lobbyists.



The proposals on lobbyists are part of guidelines for the operation of a

new standing commission on standards in public life to be created later

in the year.



No decision has been taken as to what incentives or sanctions might be

used to enforce regulation of lobbyists.



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