The announcement in 2020 that former Taoiseach Enda Kenny would front an RTÉ series about old railway routes gained a light-hearted reaction, with many jokes, caricatures and memes.
However, the revelation that Brian Hayes, a former minister and now CEO of the financial lobby group, the Irish Banking and Payments Federation, was in attendance at the GolfGate event, raised far more questions about the relationship between former politicians and those still in public office (There is no suggestion that Brian Hayes is involved in anything untoward in his new role).
Several former taoisigh and other politicians have also ended up on boards of large companies, including in the construction and energy industries, while lobbying records show that several former ministers now work as lobbyists across a range of business interests.
Under the Regulation of Lobbying Act, ministers and senior public officials cannot engage in lobbying for a year “cooling-off” period after leaving office. This only applies, however, to lobbying public bodies or representatives to which they were previously “connected” and the cooling-off period can be reduced or waived.
There are also no sanctions for failing to comply in this area, and even where a breach of the Act is identified, the Standards in Public Office Commission has no authority to investigate or prosecute.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to build a picture of where former taoisigh, ministers and special advisors end up after life in politics and what influence they may still hold in the political sphere.
We want to examine how many have also joined lobbying organisations, who they are meeting in Leinster House and what issues they are lobbying on?
The Standards in Public Office Commission has recommended that lobbying rules for former public officials should be amended. We want to speak to legal experts and political scientists about lobbying regulations and where they can be strengthened.
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