New controls on party political donations seem toothless…

FROM tomorrow, donations to political parties in Northern Ireland will be ‘controlled’ for the first time. But the ‘controls’ are so slack and invisible to the public, that you wonder why the Electoral Commission bothered. Small wonder the parties back the new regime, as it looks like they got their own way. Much of the ‘control’ seems to count on good faith from the parties, and they still do not have to disclose the identity of donors (nor will the Commission reveal who makes impermissible donations). Neither are loans regulated, with parties merely asked ‘to sign a letter of undertaking agreeing not to take out loans from impermissible sources’. Fines for non-compliance are small and maximum sentences of a year are hardly a deterrent. Well that oughta keep ’em in line(!)

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