Concern over low number of Kilkenny-based lobbyists registered

Regulator finds it 'hard to imagine' so few people have contacted TDs, councillors, ministers and officials

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

Leinster House

Leinster House.

The country's head of lobbying regulation has expressed concern over the low number of lobbyists registered in Kilkenny in comparison to the county's population.

A county-by-county analysis of registrations on the lobbying register shows that while Kilkenny has 2.1% of the national population, only 1.1% of those on the lobbying register are from here. In numerical terms, there are just 17 Kilkenny-based lobbyists registered out of a population of almost 100,000 people.

The Head of Ethics and Lobbying Regulation Sherry Perreault has urged those communicating with local authorities and public officials to consider whether they need to register lobbying activities, and if so, to do so before September 21.

“More than 60% of registrants are based in Dublin which is not surprising. Dublin is where many public officials are based, and is the headquarters of many organisations who are lobbying them," she said.

“Yet bearing in mind that the Act covers lobbying about local authority matters including planning as well as national matters, it is surprising to see such low numbers of registrants in counties outside Dublin. Thirteen counties, including Kilkenny, have less than 20 lobbyists registered in the two years the Act has been in force. 

Ms Perreault said it was 'hard to imagine' that in two years only a handful of people and businesses in these counties had lobbied their local councillor or TD, or communicated with a Minister or senior official'.

For a communication to count as lobbying it must meet all steps of a three-step test: (1) the communication must be made by a person within scope of the Act, (2) it must be made to a designated public official, and (3) it must concern a 'relevant matter' – the development, initiation or modification of policy, program or legislation, seeking funding, or – most broadly – the zoning and development of land. 

“While most of the Act’s provisions would apply only to businesses, advocacy groups or representative bodies with a certain number of employees, anyone – including individuals, volunteers, residents groups, sports clubs, builders or planners that talks to their local councillor about zoning or development of land is required to register and submit returns of lobbying activity,” she said.

She urged anyone communicating with a TD or Senator, MEP, local authority member or a civil servant to consider whether their communications might be covered by the Act.

Visit the website at www.lobbying.ie for information, guidelines, FAQs – and to take the Three-Step Test and find out if you have to register or contact the lobbying team at (01) 639-5722 or info@lobbying.ie.  The next deadline for registering lobbying activity is September 21, and any lobbying done between May 1 and August 31 must be registered by then.