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One minister has been to 870 meetings in the last year

That’s nearly three a day.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER ALEX White says that he has attended 870 meetings in the last 12 months.

White was, along with the rest of the cabinet, responding to a question from Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin asking how often ministers met with non-State-funded lobby groups.

White said that since being given the job in July last year, he has gone to a massive 870 meetings, or 2.4 every single day, including Christmas and holidays.

White says these meetings include a range of topics and attendees.

I have attended some 870 meetings with a range of individuals and groups, including meetings with representatives of those bodies under the aegis of my Department, and other public representatives. This does not include informal unscheduled meetings that might arise from time to time. In the time available, it has not been possible to break this figure down between the different categories of meetings listed in the question.

While there was no question asked of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, five ministers – Frances Fitzgerald, Leo Varadkar, Jan O’Sullivan, Alan Kelly and Paschal Donohoe – said that their records were being compiled.

Spring Economic Statements Source: graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that there is no central register in his office and details could only be obtained “by way of a manual examination of diaries and file notes”.

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said that she had been to some 100 meetings since last year, but could not give a breakdown and said the figure does not include informal meetings.

Her Public Expenditure colleague Brendan Howlin said he had been to 150 meetings, including 18 with representatives of bodies under the aegis of his department. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton more or less matches that. Having been requested to meet lobby groups 27 times, he attended 24. However, his total meeting number since January 2014 is 312.

Bruton says the meetings are “a useful way for me to hear, first hand, the issues of concern of our stakeholders”.

New White Papers on Defence Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he has been to 47 meetings with lobby groups since January 2014, but hasn’t been to a single one in his role as Defence Minister.

Children’s Minister James Reilly says that he has been asked to attend six meetings with lobby groups and turned each one down. He did, however, hold meeting with his officials. Foreign Affairs minister Charlie Flanagan said he had seven such meetings, one with former President Mary Robinson.

Since her appointment as Arts Minister, Heather Humphreys has attended 43 meetings.

The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 was enacted by the Oireachtas earlier this year and will commence on 1 September. It will make information on who is lobbying the government available to the public.

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