Sinn Féin attempt to stop ‘Old Boys Club’ lobbying frustrated by government
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has accused the government of ‘reverting to form’ when it comes to political lobbying and appointments.
He was speaking after the government frustrated the passage of legislation that would make it more difficult for former Ministers and office-holders to engage in lobbying. The legislation, drafted by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and Maireád Farrell would also have empowered the Standard in Public Office Commission to enforce the existing regulations, something they have sought for years.
When the legislation came before the Dáil last week government representatives voted to delay the legislation for a further nine months before it can be even discussed in committee.
During the debate, Deputy Matt Carthy, said that this delaying tactic was typical of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s approach to transparency.
He told the Dáil:
“On 8 February, when voters went to the polls, a large proportion of them voted for a new direction.
“They voted for a new direction in housing policy. They voted for universal healthcare. They voted for the age of retirement to be maintained at 65. Above all, they voted for change.
“Part of that change undoubtedly meant a break from the old, stale insider politics that has defined successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments.
“Following the election, those two parties, rather than recognising the appetite for change, came together to deny it.
“Far from breaking with the practices of the past, from the golden circles and the revolving doors, the practices of the past have instead become the hallmark of the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael present.
“From the appointment of judges to the refusal of Ministers to hold themselves accountable to the Dáil, from the backroom deals with the bankers, vultures and insurance industry, to the side-room deals that see some lobbyists get confidential documents from the heart of Government, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are carrying on as they always carried out, but now they are doing it together and arguably more blatantly than ever.
“The Sinn Féin Bill seeks to prevent a situation whereby Fine Gael Ministers at the Department of Finance can move seamlessly into lobbying roles for the bankers and vultures that they were supposed to regulate. It calls for a cooling-off period of just two years, hardly a punitive measure but vitally important if citizens are to have confidence that the decisions made by the Government are made in the public interest.
“In fact, this Bill provides for measures that the Standards in Public Office Commission has been calling for since 2003 in some instances. There have been several promises, pledges, considerations and reviews in the intervening years.
“The Government’s response was to have yet another review. It is not good enough.
“The government can try to obstruct and deny change and might even succeed for a while, but it will only be for a while, because the appetite for change has grown since February and will continue to grow every day until every revolving door has been shut and the rotten, shady, insider deals are brought to an end.”