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The statistics shows health as the policy area with the highest number of registered incidences of lobbying, with 2,433 registrations as of 2 February. The next-largest area is ‘economic development and industry’, with 1,128 registered incidences, and in third place is agriculture, with 1,099.
The figures include all registrations since the website was launched in 2015.
The Department of Health remains the most lobbied Government department, with 1,611 registered incidences over the same time period.
The Standards in Public Office (SIPO) Commission now plans to launch a “consultative process later this year, with a view to developing a code of conduct” for civil servants and others when it comes to lobbying, this newspaper has been told. There is currently no code of conduct in place.
“We have also identified best practices for persons undertaking lobbying activities, as well as for Designated Public Officials. These may be viewed on our website,” a SIPO spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).
According to SIPO, codes of conduct for members of Dáil Éireann and for Members of Seanad Éireann were drawn-up “by the appropriate Committees on Members’ Interests, while the code of conduct for office holders was drawn-up by the Government”.
The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour was issued by the Minister for Finance by way of a Circular (26/04), but codes of conduct for directors and employees in the wider public service have yet to be prepared.
Lobbying in the health sector has been an increasing issue of debate in recent years, particularly around the ongoing passage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, where there have been claims of intense lobbying by industry around aspects of the legislation they oppose.
The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 was signed into law in March 2015 and the Act commenced in September 2015. www.lobbying.ie was established under the legislation and is run by SIPO.
See feature, pages 4-5