Minister Donohoe announces commencement of new Act to strengthen Lobbying Regulation 

15th November, 2023

The Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, has signed the commencement order for the Regulation of Lobbying and Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) (Amendment) Act 2023 (the 2023 Act). This order adopts a two phased approach to the commencement of the 2023 Act. 

The provisions in the 2023 Act that relate to updating and improving the lobbying register will commence on 1st January 2024. This is to allow the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) time to update the lobbying register and the associated guidance, and to make lobbyists aware of the upcoming changes. 

The remaining provisions which relate to new sanctions, including those relating to contravention of the section 22 post term employment cooling off provisions, will commence on 1st June 2024.  This is to allow SIPO time to develop the processes to ensure the efficient operation of the new sanctions and to conduct awareness raising activities with lobbyists and relevant designated public officials.

The 2023 Act amends the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (the 2015 Act) in order to build on the existing strong legislative foundation and further strengthen Ireland’s lobbying laws, thus ensuring that the regulation of lobbying framework remains up to date and fit for purpose.

Lobbying is an essential part of the democratic process.  It plays an important role in policy formation.   It is essential, however, that this activity is transparent and open to public scrutiny. The public need to be able to monitor the potential influence which interest groups and representative bodies have on public policy issues and decisions.

Essentially, it must be clear who is lobbying whom, about what and why. This transparency is a key driver of trust in Government. The Lobbying Register has, from its introduction, proved to be an outstanding example of best practice in using this driver to greatest advantage.

By strengthening our regulation of lobbying regime even further, the 2023 Act ensures it continues to deliver on the objectives set for it.  In particular, the 2023 Act will:  

  • build on the existing valuable and effective online system which is freely accessible to all to ascertain who is lobbying whom about what, 
  • make it straightforward to comply with the obligations under the legislation, and 
  • promote compliance by ensuring proportionate sanctions are in place where obligations are not met.


Minister Donohoe said: 

“The Regulation of Lobbying and Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) (Amendment) Act 2023 marks a significant step forward in Ireland’s regulation of lobbying regime.  

I believe that lobbying is a vital component in maintaining a healthy and well-functioning democracy.  

However, transparency around this lobbying activity is critically important to allow citizens to follow the activities and potential influence of interest groups, representative bodies and industry and civil society organisations on policy and funding discussions and decisions.  

This Act further strengthens Ireland’s lobbying laws, incorporating the learnings of the last eight years.”


Additional Information

The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 (the 2015 Act) was commenced on 1 September 2015. From that date, there has been a requirement for those who lobby designated public officials (DPOs) to register and report on their lobbying activities every four months on the Register of Lobbying (the Register). The part of the 2015 Act which provides for investigation and enforcement provisions was commenced on 1 January 2017. 

The 2015 Act and related statutory instruments can be viewed at   

The Register, which is a web-based system, can be viewed at and is overseen by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO). There are currently almost 2,550 organisations and individuals who have registered on the Register, and nearly 82,800 returns have been submitted and are available for viewing.[1] 

There is no fee to register as a lobbyist and members of the public can view and search the Register free of charge.  

The website, as well as including the online Register, also has a suite of information tools designed to help lobbyists, DPOs and the public to fully understand the 2015 Act and its obligations. 

The purpose of the 2015 Act is to provide appropriate transparency on “who is lobbying whom about what”. In this context, the 2015 Act is designed to provide information to the public about: 

  • who is lobbying;
  • on whose behalf lobbying is being carried out;
  • the issues involved in the lobbying;
  • the intended result of the lobbying; and
  • who is being lobbied. 

The 2015 Act aims to do this by providing for: 

  • the establishment and maintenance of a publicly accessible Register of Lobbying;
  • SIPO to be the regulator of lobbying;
  • obligations on lobbyists to register and to provide information regularly about their lobbying activities, including, in the case of professional lobbyists, information about their clients;
  • a code of conduct on the carrying-on of lobbying activities; and
  • the introduction of a ‘cooling-off’ period during which lobbying activity may not be carried out by some former public officials.


The key elements of reform in the Regulation of Lobbying and Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) (Amendment) Act 2023 allow for the following changes to be made to the 2015 Act: 

  • extend the time period between statutory reviews from three to five years to allow for the impacts of any policy/legislative changes to become clear; 
  • bring certain business groups, regardless of number of employees, within the scope of the 2015 Act and require that members of such groups be named on lobbying returns to ensure the groups do not avoid the requirement to register; 
  • extend the 2015 Act’s scope to include non-remunerated office-holders to capture all relevant lobbying activity; 
  • provide for an exemption for registration for communications made by political parties to their members who are DPOs (Designated Public Officials) only in their capacity as members of the party; 
  • introduce legislative provisions to improve the operation of the Lobbying Register; 
  • introduce a new ‘relevant contravention’ in the 2015 Act covering the taking of any action by a person that has the intended purpose of avoiding the obligations to either register or submit lobbying returns to SIPO; 
  • amend the 2015 Act to make failure to comply with the cooling-off provisions of section 22 of the Act a ‘relevant contravention’ under the 2015 Act. A system of civil and administrative sanctions, to be operated by SIPO, will be introduced in this regard. This system will involve minor or major sanctions.  The sanctions will include; a caution or reprimand, a monetary penalty of up to €25,000 and a prohibition from lobbying of up to 2 years; and 
  • set out clear timelines in the 2015 Act for the processing of section 22 applications made to SIPO by former relevant DPOs.


[1] Figures correct at 8 Nov 2023