Murphy writes to SIPO about Troy's meeting with tech firms

Minister of State Robert Troy has been accused by a fellow TD of making “backroom deals with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors” after revelations he had a "confidential" meeting with representatives of tech firms in September to discuss upcoming European regulations on digital companies.

A report in the Sunday Business Post at the weekend revealed that after a request from the IDA on behalf of the companies, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment assured them that no detailed notes would be kept of the event.

Following the publication of the article, the People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy has written to the Standards In Public Office (SIPO) Commission, saying that the meeting “is a clear violation of the notion of transparency”.

“It seems the entire meeting was designed to flout the spirit and perhaps the rules of lobbying regulations in this country. Even before the meeting took place, the companies were given assurances that no detailed notes would be kept, for fear that they would be accessed under Freedom of Information. It seems the Minister, Department and corporate lobbyists conspired to try to keep the details of who attended this meeting and what they said a secret.

“This is the old boys club approach, corporate lobbyists and government ministers meeting behind closed doors. If the minister is allowed to get away with this, it makes a mockery of the lobbying regulations and all talk of transparency. It is part and parcel of the government working hand in glove with big tech to undermine regulation of their activities at a European level.”

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner yesterday, Minister Troy said that the government was not trying to hide the online meeting as it is a matter of public record. The meeting was attended by representatives from some of the biggest digital companies in the world, as well as representatives from some indigenous tech firms.

The meeting was held to discuss Ireland’s position on new EU legislation that will have a major impact on how digital companies operate. Minister Troy also said that he is scheduled to hold a meeting on the same issue with representatives from civil society.