Government TDs look set to start the new year by rowing back on promises to make State Board appointments more transparent. The Report Stage of the Registration of Lobbying Bill 2014 is scheduled for debate on Wednesday 14th January 2015 but Fine Gael and Labour TDs will vote down the measures, which aim to increase the transparency of these appointments.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform Sean Fleming TD has included an amendment, which if approved, means any person who “makes, manages or directs the making of any relevant communications to any member of Government in relation to appointments to State Boards “, will have to register under the new legislation.
Deputy Fleming commented, “The acceptance or rejection of this amendment will be the acid test of this Government’s commitment to reform appointments to State Boards. Several people on the Government side including the Chief Whip recently branded the botched Seanad appointment of John McNulty and his appointment to the Board of The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) as “underhanded”. The Government is determined to ensure that this system continues in place and will not include provisions for transparency on this matter in legislation. It has issued guidelines on the issue to Ministers which are only voluntary and have no legal standing. This is the fig leaf which the Government will hide behind”.
At the Committee Stage of the legislation on the 9th December 2014 Deputy Fleming introduced a similar amendment. The Government side, led by Minister Brendan Howlin and nine Government backbenchers, voted down the amendment.
He added, “I am giving all members of Fine Gael and Labour the opportunity to reconsider the matter and change their position at the Report Stage of the legislation. Minister Howlin regularly preaches about political reform, but fails to step up to the mark when it comes to votes in the Dáil. In fact, the Minister claims lobbying for positions on State Boards has nothing to do with the Lobbying Legislation.
“This cynical Government attitude is fuelling public cynicism of the political process and is undermining the political system in Ireland. The public will see the rejection of the proposal to include the lobbying of appointments to State Boards in the legislation for what it is; cynical and hypocritical”.