A county-by-county analysis of registrations on the lobbying register shows that while County Donegal has 3.3% of the national population, only 1.3% of those on the lobbying register are from the county.
In numerical terms, there are 21 County Donegal based lobbyists registered out of a population of 158,755.
According to the Head of Ethics and Lobbying Regulation Sherry Perreault: “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.
“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 have less than 20 lobbyists registered in the two years the Act has been in force. Of those, five counties have registrant numbers in single digits, and one – Leitrim – has none at all.
“It is hard to imagine that in two years, only a handful of people and businesses in those counties have lobbied their local councillor or TD, or communicated with a Minister or senior official.”
Ms 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 21st.
Ms Perreault said that 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 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, Frequently Asked Questions – and to take the Three-Step Test and find out if you have to register. If you are still not sure, you are welcome to contact the lobbying team at (01) 639-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
She added: “And finally, 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. If you are lobbying, make sure you meet the deadline!”