I understand this question to refer to the role of the Registrar of Friendly societies in relation to trade union regulation and governance. The Registrar of Friendly Societies has a range of functions relating to friendly societies, industrial and provident societies and trade unions, dating back to the late nineteenth century. The relevant legislation concerning trade unions is set down in the Trade Union Acts, 1871 to 1990. Under that legislation trade unions may register with the Registrar of Friendly Societies, subject to a range of obligations in relation to such registration. Principally, these include the following obligations:
to register their rules and the titles and names of officers,
to submit an annual return to the Registrar before the first day of June each year, specifying the receipts, funds, effects and expenditure of the trade union (which return to be accompanied by a copy of the audited accounts and a copy of the current rules),
to submit annually a copy of all alterations of rules, new rules, and change of officers made during the previous year, and
to maintain a registered office and to notify the Registrar of any change in the registered office.
In addition to maintaining a file on each registered trade union and making it available for inspection, for his part the Registrar must
issue a certificate of registration to trade unions
register the returns mentioned above
cancel/restore registered trade unions as appropriate, and
approve and register amalgamations and transfer of engagements.
The Registrar also has a number of specific powers in the area of investigation/dispute resolution:
to investigate complaints of discriminatory treatment against a non-contributor to a political fund. The Registrar may make an order to remedy the breach, which is binding and conclusive, and not subject to appeal (section 3(2) of the Trade Union Act 1913).
to investigate complaints under section 16(5) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990 concerning the operation of secret ballots, following which the Registrar may instruct a trade union to comply with the secret ballot provisions of the Act (section 14(2)). Where such instruction is disregarded the Registrar must inform the Minister, who may revoke the union's negotiating licence.
to hear disputes referred to the Registrar under section 10 of the Trade Union Act, 1975 concerning the passing of resolutions approving amalgamations of trade unions. Under this section, the Registrar may, at the request of the complainant or of the trade union, state a case for the opinion of the High Court on a question of law arising in the proceedings.
The powers of the Registrar in relation to such matters have rarely been exercised. The Registrar has no independent powers of investigation, and can only act where requested to do so on the specific areas mentioned above, or to refer a matter to the court in relation to wilful or fraudulent withholding of money. This latter option is also available to "any person" acting on behalf of a trade union. The Registrar reports annually to the Minister in respect of the principal matters transacted in the Registry in respect of registered trade unions. This report is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.