THIS week there was much ado about the publication of proposed legislation on the rules around lobbying.
Cork Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath published a bill which aims to tighten the rules that prevent politicians lobbying former colleagues for a specified time period after they leave government.
The bill proposes that the penalties would be increased for breaking the lobbying rules, with a fine of ‘up to’ €25,000.
On the face of it, this makes it look like the government is making strides to limit corruption and make influencing or networking with former colleagues for financial reward a less attractive option for former TDs and senators. High ranking public officials are also included in the legislation.
However, a seemingly high financial penalty is an easy workaround for the likes of those corporations and industries that seek to hire former politicians and public sector employees.
It will only serve to bulk up the salaries being offered for such lobbying roles, which usually command many multiples of the penalties suggested. More stringent oversight of the lobbying process itself would be a better tool to convey the message that abuse of the process won’t be tolerated.