Shane Ross

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Can big Money Access Ministers?

Posted on: February 21st, 2005

Can big money get access to Ministers? Political lobbyists walk unidentified around Leinster House. We are entitled to ask who they are and who they represent.

The Labour Party previously introduced a Bill on lobbyists in this House which was voted down in summary fashion by the Government. I have noticed in recent times there has been a proliferation of lobbyists in the Houses again, with National Toll Roads particularly noticeable in the past few days. I have no problem with lobbyists being here but I have a problem with big business having access to these Houses when there is no register of who represents whom.

If this is to continue, the Government might reconsider the decision it took during the last parliamentary session and introduce a Bill to ensure we know to whom we are talking when we talk to people wandering around the House and also who they represent. There is a serious danger that big money can get big business access to Ministers. This is something we should consider very seriously. I could produce much evidence if there were a proper inquiry into this that big money gets access to Ministers for Finance, taoisigh and other people with that sort of power.

In that regard, I ask that the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, come to the House not only to address the issue of the M3, but also to address the issue of the M50. It is not a coincidence that National Toll Roads was in here yesterday. It was preparing the ground for a meeting with the Minister today regarding the M50 and the toll plaza. Perhaps when she is considering the issue of lobbyists, the Leader could also consider whether the Minister for Transport could tell us what plans he has for the M50 and the toll plaza, and also what happened at today’s meeting.