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Former junior minister won't engage 'in any lobbying activities' for 12 months as CEO of funds sector lobby group

D’Arcy is set to resign his Seanad seat to become chief executive of the Irish Association of Investment Management.

Michael D'Arcy (file photo)
Michael D'Arcy (file photo)
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Sep 28th 2020, 3:41 PM

FORMER JUNIOR FINANCE Minister Michael D’Arcy is to resign his seat in the Seanad to become chief executive of the Irish Association of Investment Managers (IAIM), a representative body for the funds and investment industry.

It emerged earlier today that the Fine Gael Senator was appointed CEO with the organisation, prompting concerns that it would be in breach of the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) regulations and section 22 of the Lobbying Act, which state that a person in public office cannot engage in lobbying for 12 months after leaving that office. 

Opposition parties have sought clarity on D’Arcy’s appointment, expressing concerns it could be in breach of Sipo regulations and the Lobbying Act.

However, a spokesperson for the IAIM insisted D’Arcy and the association “will not be engaging in any lobbying activities until the 12-month cooling off period has been completed, in adherence with the regulations”.

“The IAIM obtained legal advice and are satisfied that Michael D’Arcy’s appointment as CEO is not in breach of Section 22 of the Lobbying Act. IAIM has not engaged in any lobbying activity in 2018, 2019 and 2020 to date, as evidenced by filings under the Act,” they said.

D’Arcy was a TD for the Wexford constituency from 2016 to 2020, and previously between 2007 and 2011. He served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance from 2017 to 2020.

D’Arcy worked on policy related to the funds sector in his role as Minister for State with responsibility for financial services and insurance.

He lost his seat in this year’s general election, and was elected to the Seanad for the Agricultural Panel in April. He previously served as a senator for the Administrative Panel from 2011 to 2016, and as a local councillor.

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to connect the dots between the State and former officials turned lobbyists. Support this project here.

D’Arcy’s appointment to the IAIM was reported by the Irish Times today and confirmed by a Fine Gael statement this morning.

The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 forbids an office holder from engaging in any lobbying for 12 months after they leave office, but they can ask for an exemption from the Standards In Public Office Commission (Sipo).

In a statement, SIPO did not confirm whether D’Arcy has requested this exemption. 

It said: “ We cannot comment on individual compliance matters. What I can say is that section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act prohibits certain former designated public officials (including Ministers, Ministers of State, ministerial advisors and senior civil servants) from engaging in certain lobbying activities or from being employed by someone who engages in such activities, without the consent of [Sipo].

“For greater clarity, the former DPO is prohibited from lobbying their previous public body or their former colleagues with whom they worked in their last year in office.”

It added that a “one-year cooling-off period is a statutory requirement” an exemption is required for that cooling-off period to be waived.

D’Arcy has tendered his resignation from Seanad Éireann to Tánaiste and leader of Fine Gael Leo Varadkar. In a statement he said he came to the decision “following a period of reflection over the summer”.

“I have made my fullest contribution to public life and now wish to start a new career which I can confirm will be with the Irish Association of Investment Managers.”

D’Arcy thanked the people of Wexford for their support and said he remains “a proud supporter of Fine Gael”.

Varadkar said he is “sorry to lose” D’Arcy from the Fine Gael parliamentary party “but can understand why he has made his decision”.

“I would have loved to have seen Michael return to the Dáil as a TD and a Minister after the next election but understand that after 20 years in public life he wants to start a new chapter of his life.”

Varadkar added that the IAIM is “fortunate to recruit someone of his calibre”.

D’Arcy was a supporter of Varadkar in his successful Fine Gael leadership campaign and the Tánaiste thanked him for the “pivotal role he played in helping me to become leader of my party”.

Varadkar said Fine Gael has initiated the process of selecting its candidate to contest the Seanad by-election that will now arise.

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Is this a breach of law? Sipo to decide

Statute Book Source: Irish Statue Book/Section 22

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told RTÉ’s the News at One that the appointment is “simply not acceptable”, and raised serious concerns about whether the appointment was legal.

“It’s very clear in relation to the 2015 Act,” Doherty said, adding that the IAIM is on the lobbying register, and that it shows “in black and white” that the IAIM “lobbied the junior minister who is going to be their CEO”. 

The Lobbying Register shows that the IAIM has lobbied the current and previous Minister for Finance (Paschal Donohoe and Michael Noonan), the Assistant Secretary at the Department of Finance, and former Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in the past four years.

Section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 states that:

  • “A person who has been a relevant designated public official shall not— a) carry on lobbying activities in circumstances to which this section applies, or b) be employed by, or provide services to, a person carrying on lobbying activities in such circumstances,” and
  • “The circumstances to which this section applies are any in which the making of the communications comprising the carrying on of lobbying activities … involves any public service body with which the person was connected during the period of one year ending with the day on which the person ceased to be a relevant designated public official.”

Sinn Féin’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the party has written to Sipo and asked the body if D’Arcy’s appointment is “a breach in law, as we expect”.

Other TDs have also raised concerns and Rise TD Paul Murphy wrote to Sipo requesting an investigation into the appointment of D’Arcy.

“The claims that D’Arcy is exempt from the ban because he promises he won’t personally lobby are beside the point. The law is clear he is not allowed to work for a lobbyist either, which is precisely what he is trying to do,” Murphy said.

With reporting by Conor McCrave

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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