Northern Ireland

Donations to Stormont parties to be published

cheque being written

Future donations to political parties in Northern Ireland are to be published, Secretary of State James Brokenshire has announced.

However, the changes will only affect funds received from 1 July onwards.

The decision not to backdate the publication has been criticised by some political parties.

The Electoral Commission welcomed the move, but said it hoped to see legislation brought in to allow it to publish donations from 2014 onwards.

Stormont power-sharing deal 'remains achievable'

Unlike the rest of the UK, Stormont parties are not required to reveal who funds them.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Brokenshire said there was a consensus on a need for "greater transparency on political donations" in Northern Ireland.

"In line with the commitment set out in the Conservative Party's Northern Ireland manifesto for the General Election, I can confirm that I intend to bring forward legislation that will provide for the publication of all donations and loans received by Northern Ireland parties on or after the 1st of July 2017," he said.

The head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, Ann Watt, said: "While all reportable donations and loans received from 1 July 2017 will now be published by the commission, we would also like to see the necessary legislation put in place, as soon as possible, to allow us to publish details of donations and loans received since January 2014.

"Such a move will only help to further enhance today's positive announcement on future transparency."

'Crass decision'

Sinn Féin's northern leader Michelle O'Neill described Mr Brokenshire's announcement as "a very crass decision, which probably points to a side deal between the Tories and the DUP on political donations".

She said she was "100% behind transparency" but questioned the placing of the announcement in a statement about the Stormont talks.

"I really don't see the context in which that fitted in his statement today," Mrs O'Neill said.

The Alliance Party's, David Ford, accused Mr Brokenshire of offering "feeble excuses" for not making the publication retrospective.

"There are many questions as to why donations during the Brexit campaign, during the election campaigns of this year and the election campaign of last year are not fully transparent and open," he said.

"At a time when there is such deep cynicism in this society about the political process, his failure to address that issue properly can only enhance that suspicion and that cynicism.

"We need to see openness, we need to see full transparency and we need to see Parliament backdating that to January 1 2014."

Related Topics

More on this story