Parties cashing in on peace dividend…

MICK flagged it up, but we forgot about the Electoral Commission’s report into the parties’ finances published on Wednesday. Davy Gordon noted that private donations to the local parties had more than doubled between 2006 and 2007, from £296,115 to £744,529 – so if no-one else is benefitting from a peace dividend, at least the parties are! Of course, the donors here, unlike elsewhere in the UK, will remain anonymous until at least 2010 (and any review is far from guaranteed to change this). Sinn Fein was the only party with an income over a million, about half of which comes from contributions from their elected representatives (and nearly £280,000 is Westminster and Assembly grants), while at the other end of the scale the UUP had a deficit of more than £400,000. It’s expenditure is almost double the party’s income, although a revaluation of party HQ Cunningham House to £800k helps matters. DUP donations have increased 15-fold between 2006/7, to £190,144, while SF’s almost tripled, to just under £300,000, thanks to US donors – another local luxury that doesn’t apply in the rest of the UK.