People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has criticised the lobbying of members of the Communications, Climate Action and Environment committee by the former Government Press Secretary, Feargal Purcell.
Purcell is now Director of Public Affairs at Edelman Ireland, Public Relations firm. Records show (see links in notes) that he recently lobbied several members of the committee in relation to the Climate Emergency Measures Bill that would end the issuing of licences for fossil fuel exploration off the Irish Coast. The lobbying was carried out on behalf of the Irish Offshore Operators Association and specifically involved the Deputy’s Bill.
The Bill which passed second stage last year is being held up by a procedural wrangle and a motion to end the impasse will be debated in the Dáil tonight.
Deputy Smith pointed out that, “Fergal Purcell worked for former Taoiseach Enda Kenny from 2011 to 2017 and then for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar up to 31 October 2017. His role was to coordinate and manage all Government advice. Within two months of leaving the role he had taken up the post with the PR company Edelman. And within less than one year he began lobbying the Minister, TD’s and Senators on the People Before Profit, Climate Emergency Bill.
“This illustrates the toxic links between the fossil fuel industry and the government. It shows that Government opposition to this Bill is not motivated by public interest but by the vested interests of big business and their lobbyists. This is like being in an episode of the House of Cards where a select minority have access to the corridors of power and are able to by-pass the democratic will of the Dáil.
“I am calling on the Taoiseach and Fine Gael to allow this Bill to proceed through the democratic processes of the Oireachtas and to listen to the tens of thousands of young people and not the voices of the elite lobbyists on behalf of the oil and gas industry.”