Ten years ago when a bunch of bankers greatly damaged the economy the country of Ireland suffered quite a bit. The people of Ireland made the connection between influence on politicians from large corporations on poor public policy – thus they changed the rules on how the private sector can influence the public sector. The rues now put in place are appearing to rebuild trust in politicians, and the other countries are now looking at following Ireland’s lead.
The Irish reforms are simple. Any individual, company or NGO that seeks to directly or indirectly influence officials on a policy issue must list themselves on a public register and disclose any lobbying activity. The rules cover any meeting with high-level public officials, as well as letters, emails or tweets intended to influence policy.
For those in the business, the impact of the register and its requirements are primarily about the way the industry is perceived — and, broadly, they’re happy about it.
“I’ve not heard anybody suggest the Lobbying Act has impacted in any way the willingness or the ability to influence [policymakers],” said Conall McDevitt, CEO of Hume Brophy, one of Ireland’s largest lobbying firms. “It’s always better in our industry to have transparency, we’re all the stronger for it.”