Small businesses may have obligations under the new Regulation of Lobbying Act without even realising it.
The Act, which came into force on 1 September 2015, uses a broad definition of lobbying and requires that all such activities are registered via the new lobbying.ie website.
For the purposes of the Act, lobbying is formal or informal communication:
- By lobbyists, including any employer with more than 10 employees
- With Designated Public Officials
- On relevant matters
Am I a lobbyist?
If you are an employer with more than 10 employees interacting formally or informally with public officials, you are categorised as a lobbyist. Furthermore, any person lobbying about the development or zoning of land is covered by the Act, regardless of whether they have any employees.
Who is a Designated Public Official?
Communication with people holding the following positions could be categorised as lobbying:
- Ministers, Ministers of State
- TDs and Senators
- Irish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
- Members of Local Authorities
- Special Advisors
- Senior civil and public servants
- Civil service: Secretaries General, Assistant Secretaries, Director grades and equivalent
- Local Authorities: CEOs, Directors of Services, Heads of Finance
Remember, the contact with these Designated Public Officials does not have to be a formal meeting or letter, it could also be an informal discussion at an event, in the street or on your doorstep during a campaign.
What are considered ‘relevant matters’?
Not all communication with Designated Public Official is considered lobbying. The matters that are considered relevant are:
- The initiation, development or modification of any public policy or programme
- The preparation of an enactment
- The award of any grant, loan or other financial support, contract or other agreement, or of any licence or other authorisation involving public funds
Advice for SFA members
All lobbying carried out by the SFA on behalf of members will be registered by the SFA team.
If you are asked or encouraged to raise issues with your local representatives or other Designated Public Officials by the SFA, this will be registered by the SFA as a grassroots campaign, and you do not need to take any action.
If you raise an issue with a politician or public official based on information provided by the SFA, please let us know so that we can register the activity.
If you have a conversation, send a letter or arrange a meeting with one of the office-holders mentioned above to discuss matters relating to your own business, where you are a business with more than 10 employees, you are obliged to create an account on www.lobbying.ie and register the lobbying activity.
More information is available on the SFA website.
If you have any questions on the Regulation of Lobbying Act or its application, you can contact Patricia Callan, SFA Director, on 01-6051602 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, on 01-6051626 or email@example.com