Last Saturday, January 21 marked the deadline for the September to December 2016 lobbying returns to be filed; a deadline of importance as this was the first returns period in which the Standards Commission can take enforcement action. The upshot of this is that January was the busiest returns period under the legislation to date with 3,340 returns having been filed. Any return filed after January 21 that relate to the period September to December 2016 is liable to a fixed penalty payment of €200– details of which are available here. If you are late in making your returns, you are encouraged to rectify the situation as soon as possible.
The PRII submitted three returns for the last reporting period. Those related to our position on the ongoing review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act, the Department of Justice’s consultation on the Defamation Act, and our position on clarity around social media influencer endorsements. In the case of the Regulation of Lobbying Act, the PRII is required to report this activity as while we took part in the Department’s public consultation (which is exempt), we also carried out separate lobbying activity around the consultation so that activity was not exempt. An example of this engagement was the PRII’s recent meeting with Minister Paschal Donohoe. The same is true for our return on the Defamation Act, where we informed opposition spokespeople of the PRII’s position paper.
In terms of other organisations lobbying around these issues, the PRII is the only organisation to report lobbying on the Regulation of Lobbying Act or in relation to social media influencers. A number of organisations are lobbying in relation to the whole area of defamation reform, including Newsbrands Ireland, the Law Society, Key Capital Limited (the owners of the Sunday Business Post) and Independent News and Media.
The output of the PRII’s lobbying in relation to the Lobbying Act will be seen towards the end of February when Minister Donohoe publishes the first review of the Lobbying Act. In relation to social media influencers, our lobbying activity resulted in clarity from both an Irish and a European perspective that advertising by influencers must be clearly distinguished from editorial content. No timeline has been advised in relation to the review of the Defamation Act.