Politicians, lobbyists and (disgraced) interested parties

15 Apr

Recently in these islands our media has been somewhat exercised by certain politicians (An Taoiseach, the UK PM, various cabinet members) being found to be in meetings with a variety of lobbyists, TDs and business people. Or in the case of Caring Dave Cameron intimate dinners in return for a ‘political’ donation.

Now it is part of the elected representative’s job description  to meet with interested parties to either further their interests (e.g. raise issues in the department or on the floor of the parliament) or to be better informed about all sides of an issue. Thus it is inevitable that any effective politician will take these types of meeting.

And in a democracy there should be no issue with this process on condition that ALL such meeting are logged, ALL discussions are properly minuted in full detail of ALL issues raised and discussed and conversations accurately recorded.

This includes those ‘side room’ discussions where the lobbyist, party donor, business man just ‘happens’ to be present at a social function where the politician is a guest, because anything other than openness and honesty risks accusations and suspicions (understandable in the light of Moriarty, Mahon tribunals and the Levinson inquiry) of bias at best or underhand favouritism at worst.

However what we have at the moment are details of meetings which are rudimentary at best. Such cursory record keeping in the current climate of suspicion about the probity of our elected representatives can only further issues of distrust, cynicism and disengagement from the process of democracy which in the long run has to be corrosive of our freedoms, social system and citizenship

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