Irish Labour after lobbyists register

DUBLIN: The Irish Labour Party has tabled a private members’ bill for the upcoming session of parliament that would require all professional lobbyists to register and bar public officials and ministerial advisers from acting as lobbyists for two years after leaving their jobs.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte claims there has been a ‘phenomenal increase’ in the numbers of lobbyists over the past two years, that most are former ministerial advisers or worked with political parties, and that there is a ‘compelling case’ to have the sector regulated.

Under the proposed bill, lobbyists would be required to detail the official or minister lobbied, the legislation, contract or policy involved, on whose behalf the lobbying took place, and whether the lobbyist's payment was contingent on success. Failure to detail all contacts with officials or ministers would be an offence punishable by fines and up to two years in jail. The lobbyists’ register would be open to public inspection.

The continuing revelations to a planning corruption tribunal by Frank Dunlop, a former government press secretary turned lobbyist, alleging that he bought councillors’ votes with money provided by developers, has led to public pressure for such a register.

Environment Minister Martin Cullen has promised to bring in legislation but Labour is accusing him of ‘foot-dragging’ on the issue.

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