Northern Ireland

Call for timetable on making NI political donations public

The Committee on Standards in Public Life chairman has said a timetable should be set to put NI "on the same basis as the rest of the UK" in terms of making political donations public.

Sir Christopher Kelly made his comments after the publication of a report by the committee.

At present the identity of party donors in Northern Ireland remain secret.

Parties in the rest of the UK must report the identity of all donations over £7,500.

The report by the goverment appointed watchdog covers all of the UK and its main recommendation is for a cap on individual donations of £10,000.

In relation to Northern Ireland, it wants the government to commit to a timetable to introduce the same transparency as elsewhere.

It wants more details published by 2015, including the extent to which party donations come from Irish citizens living outside the UK.

"As an interim measure the electoral commission should publish some summary details not of who is giving, but how many donations there are above the level which is transparent elsewhere and what proportion comes from Irish citizens," Sir Christopher Kelly added.

The committee also recommends that policy development grants which are linked to a party's representation at Westminster should be made available to parties with significant representation at Stormont.

At present, the DUP and the SDLP each get more than £150,000 of these grants.

Sinn Fein do not receive the cash because they do not take their seats in the House of Commons, whilst the Ulster Unionists lost their grant when they slipped below the threshold of having two MPs.

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