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
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
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.