N. Ireland Politics

Northern Ireland parties received just over £800,000

cheque being written
Image caption The lion's share of public funds went to the DUP and Sinn Féin

Northern Ireland's political parties received just over £800,000 in donations and from public funds between July and December 2017.

The figures have been released by the Electoral Commission for the first time under new legislation.

The lion's share of public funds went to the DUP and Sinn Féin.

The DUP received £200,000 up until September 2017 and £87,000 up to December, Sinn Féin got £195,000 up to September and a further £136,000.

Nine parties report

The figures show Sinn Féin MLAs made a large number of donations to the party.

The DUP'S sole donation came from Gross Hill Properties Ltd who donated just under £5,000 to the party.

The Alliance Party received two donations of £7,500 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

The SDLP received £24,400 from public funds in July to September 2017, and £27,100 in donations and from public funds between October and December.

The UUP received £24,200 in July to September, and the same in October to December.

The Green Party received £11,400 from public funds in July to September, and £13,300 in October to December.

The TUV received £6,700 in public funds from July to September, and the same amount in October to December.

Gerry Carroll, the People Before Profit MLA, donated to his own party, which received a total of £13,100 in donations and public funds in July to September and £6,750 in October to December

The details also show the Conservatives received a donation of just under £8,000.

Nine political parties reported accepting a total of £832,489.

Image caption During the European referendum, the DUP took out a pro-Brexit wraparound ad in the Metro

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said the figures made "fascinating reading".

The North Down MLA said: "What is clear is that there is a phenomenal disparity in the amounts of public funding that are going to various parties."

The Transparency of Donations and Loans etc. (Northern Ireland Political Parties) Order 2018 now allows the commission to publish information about donations and loans reported by Northern Ireland political parties and other regulated entities from 1 July 2017 onwards.

At a House of Commons debate on 7 March, Labour and the SNP objected to the order because the government set July last year as the date after which all donations and loans of more than £7,500 should be made public.

'Controversial'

The opposition parties argued it should have been backdated to 2014, which would have included party donations made during the EU referendum campaign of 2016.

That includes a controversial £435,000 donation to the DUP from a group of pro-union business people called the Constitutional Research Council (CRC).

The CRC is chaired by Richard Cook, a former vice-chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

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