Regardless of the Robinsons, the rules for permissible donations to political parties in Northern Ireland has lagged behind the rest of the UK for the catch-all reason of the Troubles. Donations to parties ( rules for individual candidates are separate ) were regulated for the first time only from November 2007. Donations over £1000 have to be reported quarterly to the Electoral Commission. Unlike GB , names of donors are still kept secret from the public for fear of intimidation. As the Commission hasnt squealed over the Robinsons, I assume theyre in the clear on this.
As the Commission website explains
One difference is that donations to political parties in Northern Ireland can be legitimately accepted from Irish citizens and prescribed Irish bodies.
Another key difference is that, in Northern Ireland, the Electoral Commission is required to keep details of donations to Northern Ireland parties confidential except where a donation is accepted from an impermissible or unidentified donor. The confidentiality requirement was put in place to assuage fears that donors might be intimidated should their details be made public.
Seamus Magee said: It is the Commissions desire that the necessity for confidentiality should fall away as and when political and security conditions allow. The Commission is confident that a system of full and public disclosure will be achievable when the prescribed period comes to an end in October 2010.
According to a recent EC poll, 64% of the public want full donor details disclosed. Not before time
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London