February 15, 2022
Minister chooses to introduce weaker lobbying legislation rather than work with opposition – Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure Mairéad Farrell TD has criticised Minister Michael McGrath for pushing ahead with his own Bill to regulate lobbying, rather than work with Sinn Féin on a Bill which is already at Committee stage and is awaiting its pre-legislative scrutiny report.

Sinn Féin’s Regulation of Lobbying Bill (2020) was brought forward by Teachta Farrell and Pearse Doherty TD.

Teachta Farrell stated:

“Once again I’m disappointed, although hardly surprised, that the Minister has decided to proceed with his own weaker Bill rather than support ours.

“This was an opportunity to work together with the opposition and to close the existing loopholes in our lobbying regime.

“The weaknesses in the current regulation of lobbying framework were brought into sharp focus following the controversy of former Junior Finance Minister Michael D’Arcy’s attempt to join the lobbying organisation for the Irish Funds Industry, seemingly in breach of the ‘cooling off period’.

“As reported by RTÉ, the Minister’s Bill will emulate a number of the measures of our Bill, however it will go for a shorter 12 month ‘cooling off’ period, than the 24 month requirement we are calling for.

“Nobody is served by a revolving door between politics and big business. Minister McGrath and this government claim they love competition in the marketplace, and yet a revolving door situation is corrosive to competition.

“It allows people to trade on their former insider influence to distort competition. You would think that this would be a concern for this government, but apparently not.

“The Finance Committee heard the testimony of academics and transparency campaigners who recognised the value of our bill, and were supportive of the measures that it enacts.

“Our Bill would recommend 13 of the recommendations of the Standards Commission (SIPO) who have been calling for these additional powers for years.

“The Minister’s Bill is just a poor imitation. Why does it take the occurrence of a controversy like ‘D’Arcygate’ to spur them into action?

“Why when the opposition brings forward a bill to ensure something like this happen again, does the government insist on introducing their own bill, which is clearly the second best option?”

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