Taoiseach’s Answer On Lobbying Raises Serious Questions On Influence Of Fossil Fuel Industry

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Chiefs advisor’s “Cup of Coffee” with lobbyists took place one week before Government sought to overturn decision on Climate Bill

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has said that the Taoiseach’s answers to her question on unrecorded meetings between one of his chief advisors and a fossil fuel industry lobbyist raised serious question about democracy and transparency.

At Leaders’ Questions, Deputy Smith raised a story from the Sunday Business Post that revealed that one of his main advisors had met with Feargal Purcell formerly Government press secretary but now working on behalf on the IOOA.

While the lobbyist Feargal Purcell recorded the meeting and stated it was on the Climate Emergency Bill, the Government Advisor John Carroll did not document any meeting .

The meeting took place after the Dáil had voted a second time in late March to progress the Bill to Select Committee.  Following the meeting the Minister wrote to the Ceann Comhairle asking for a reconsideration of whether the Climate Emergency Bill needed a money message. The Ceann’s office had judged in February 2018 that it didn’t. However on May 26th, just days before the Select Committee was to meet, the Ceann agreed that it did in fact now require a money message.

Deputy Smith said: “The details that the Taoiseach revealed today at Leaders’ Questions gives us an insight into the lack of democracy that prevails in this country. The fossil fuel industry have heavily lobbied to kill a bill that has democratically won two Dáil votes, and they have met with at least one senior official who is very close to the Taoiseach.

“It is clear from the Taosieach’s reply that this ‘cup of coffee’ meeting between Fregeal Purcell and John Carroll happened a week before the Minister wrote to the Ceann saying that the bill needed a money message. This is a shocking insight to how, behind the veil of democracy, there are powerful vested interests with easy access to the Government and  who are able to direct policy makers against the democratic will of the Dáil.”

The TD said that she will continue to fight to have the bill progressed. That can happen by either a change to standing orders or a possible Judicial Review.