Wednesday, 18 April 2018
Almost anyone in Ireland can have access to a Minister. It is not that difficult to have access to politicians or Ministers in Ireland, whether it is through a constituency clinic or simply by requesting a meeting or telephone call. With regard to the lobbying Act, as the Deputy well knows as a serving politician, the obligation is on the person carrying out the lobbying - the lobbyist - to register, not the politician. I have never registered that somebody lobbied me under the lobbying Act and I am not required to do so. I doubt that the Deputy has done so either so therefore her contention is a bit of a red herring.
With regard to the timeline, I am advised that the mergers process went through the full rigour required under the Act and the guidelines afterwards were received by the Minister, Deputy Denis Naughten, on 21 November 2016. The recommendation was made by officials on 4 January 2017 that the acquisition be referred for a phase 2 examination, and that was approved by the Minister on 10 January.