Allan Shine, chair of County Kildare Chamber
There are 45 Kildare-based individuals or organisations who are registered as lobbiests on lobby.ie
That website was established as part of the the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 which came into affect in March 2015 and is intended to provide information to the public about who is lobbying whom about what.
In essence, any person or organisation which is in contact with a politician or official at national, local or council level in order to discuss an area of concern to them, must register as a lobbyist.
Of the 45 listed in Kildare, quite a few are listed simply because that is the address of the headquarters of a national organisation — such as the Irish Episcopal Conference and the Irish Grey Partridge Conservation Trust.
However, approximately a quarter of them have been active in contacting local county councillors or councoil officials.
For instance, Athy Rugby Football Club contacted local councillors and TDs to highlight their concerns over the impact Route C1 (a proposed new road) would have on the club activities. “We also held a public meeting in the club on December 4, 2015 which was attended by Martin Heydon TD, Ivan Keatley Cllr, Mark Wall Cllr, Sean O’Fearghail TD and Jack Wall TD,” they explained on the website.
Not surprisingly, County Kildare Chamber was one of the busiest lobby groups locally. They met Council official Peter Minnock on the question of the Applegreen distribution centre in Naas; they met Councillor Naoise O’Cearúil and official Sonya Kavangh in relation to Purple Flag Status in Maynooth through a joint project with Kildare County Council.
They also met with official Eamonn O’Sullivan to lobby that “no car park spaces would be lost if planning was to be approved for the new road layout on the Dublin road in Naas”.
And they had similar concerns over the Kilcullen road proposed cycling lanes.
They also sought support from Kildare TDs for a meeting with Minister Simon Coveney and for the TDs' support on co-hosting meetings throughout the county to engage with businesses on the proposed rate valuation scheme.
The Applegreen proposal for the Dublin road was the subject of a lot of lobbying, with David Mulcahy Planning Consultants holding several meetings, on behalf of Applegreen, with a large number of councillors and TDs.
Intel Ireland Limited met with James Lawless for “a general discussion on matters relating to the areas of science, technology, research and innovation”.
Meanwhile Maguire and Associates met with a number of councillors about rezoning of lands, on behalf of Springwood Limited at the Turnings.
Derek Whyte emailed a selection of Kildare County Councillors in relation to support for a submission on behalf of Raymond Conlan for lands in Rathangan, specifically to change zoning from open space to town centre/mixed use.
However, one councillor said they knew of at least one lobbying group which was not registered.
He told the Leinster Leader that he always made a point of telling anyone who wishes to discuss matters with him to register, and some had not done so.