INTERNATIONAL: Ahern puts the brakes on new lobbying legislation

DUBLIN: Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern has delayed the introduction of new lobbying legislation in the wake of the Paddy Duffy scandal (PR Week, 25 June), saying that a knee-jerk reaction may not be the best solution in the long run.

DUBLIN: Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern has delayed the

introduction of new lobbying legislation in the wake of the Paddy Duffy

scandal (PR Week, 25 June), saying that a knee-jerk reaction may not be

the best solution in the long run.



His announcement comes after the Irish government voted down a private

members bill brought forward by the Labour Party on the subject of

legislating against political lobbyists. The move is believed to be a

sign that the Irish PM has plans to introduce his own measures.



The bill, which was supported in spirit by the Public Relations

Institute of Ireland (PRII), would have meant lobbyists having to

register with the Public Offices Commission which clients they worked

for.



’These are problems which require a lot more discussion in the public

service itself and by the Dail and of course in the media,’ said

Ahern.



Labour Party spokesperson Paul Daily said: ’The bill got voted down by

the government despite the fact it had the support of the other

political parties and the PRII, on the grounds that they are examining a

bill themselves.’



’This problem is not going to go away. I expect both the PRII and the PR

Consultants Association to look at the whole area and develop a joint

industry approach, either coming up with self-regulatory proposals or

having some input on a government solution,’ said Nigel Heneghan,

president of the PRII.



The matter will not now be resolved until autumn, as the Dail is now in

summer recess.



’Given that many of us believe that more contact and cross-fertilisation

between the public and private sectors may be more to the public

advantage than its disadvantage, we should not automatically assume that

we know the right answers before studying the situation more deeply,’

said Ahern.



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