The 2022 Standards in Public Office Commission regulation of lobbying annual report under the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 shows that 11,600 returns of lobbying activities were submitted in the three reporting periods in 2022
The total number of registered lobbyists at the end of 2022 was 2,430 – an increase of almost6% on 2021. The figure in 2015 was just under 1,000.
Health was the biggest public-policy area lobbied about in 2022, followed by economic development and industry, agriculture, housing, and justice and equality.
Two investigations into possible unreported lobbying were carried over from 2021 into 2022, and two further investigations were launched during the year.
One prosecution, initiated in 2022, remained before the courts at the end of the year.
Separately, the commission closed two cases during 2022, on the basis that there was no evidence that unreported lobbying has occurred.
The commission also reported that it received no applications to waive post-employment provisions in 2022. These provisions ban ministers, ministers of state, special advisers and senior public officials from lobbying activities for one year after they leave office.
SIPO is chaired by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan.
The report shows that a total of 468 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) for late returns were issued in 2022.
More FPNs in respect of late returns were levied in 2022 than in 2021, which itself was up from 2020. 178 of these FPNs were for late returns in periods prior to 2022.
SIPO cancelled 50 FPNs in 2022, where a technical problem on lobbying.ie prevented the person from submitting a return on time, an administrative error occurred in which the person erroneously submitted a duplicate return for the wrong period, and/or the person was not required to register and had registered in error.
The report states that unregistered lobbying activity is monitored by the SIPO secretariat via open-source intelligence, such as media articles and social-media notifications.
A total of 413 FPNs for late returns were paid over the year. 268 of these paid FPNs were for late returns in the first two periods of 2022. 50 notices of potential prosecution were issued in 2022 for non-payment of FPNs
In 2022, the Commission issued a total of 139 notices informing the registrant of their intent to prosecute if a return of lobbying activities was not submitted (non-returns).