Pearse Doherty TD
The Dáil will today debate a Bill brought forward by Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mairéad Farrell TD and spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD that seeks to bring enhanced accountability and transparency to political lobbying.
The Regulation of Lobbying Bill 2020 implements 13 recommendations of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) to ‘enhance transparency and accountability’ by extending the cooling-off period for Ministers, Junior Ministers and Special Advisors who move from public office to a lobbying role from one year to two years.
It will also give SIPO the powers to investigate, enforce and sanction breaches of this cooling-off period.
"I am very pleased to bring forward this important and timely piece of legislation that will greatly improve the regulation, oversight and accountability of political lobbying in this State.
"For too long Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have permitted the existence of a revolving door between politics and the lobbying industry, with their former Ministers benefiting most," said Deputy Doherty.
He added: "Whilst this revolving door has helped many former ministers to advance their self-interests, it has been corrosive to the interests of the public.
"In recent times we have witnessed former Junior Finance Minister, Brian Hayes, go to work as chief lobbyist for the banking industry. We have seen former Junior Finance Minister, Michael D’Arcy, join the Irish Association of Investment Managers and we have seen the leaking of a confidential document by Leo Varadkar to the NAGP.
"I believe these practices are corrosive to democracy as they undermine ordinary people's expectations and belief that our political system is responsive to their needs, rather than the needs of well-heeled unelected special interest groups."
Deputy Doherty said this is an urgent and necessary piece of legislation and Sinn Féin will be seeking cross-party support for this Bill.
"For too long in this country there has been a serious lack of accountability when it comes to political lobbying."
"It is my hope that this Bill will mark a new departure for standards in Irish public life," he said.
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