Donors to NI parties must be named

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 hasn’t squealed over the Robinsons, I assume they’re 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

  • Damian O’Loan

    “As the Commission hasn’t squealed over the Robinsons, I assume they’re in the clear on this.”

    The Commission was deciding whether to investigate; it hasn’t said that it intends not to, so your presumption may be a little hasty.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Indeed Mr Walker.
    It would be a service to Democracy if we knew who was funding Politicians and Parties.
    And it would serve Democracy if Journalists were open about their own religious/political affiliation, membership of GAA, Orange Order and Free Masons.
    Neither is likely to happen.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    The problem in NI is that the parties are largely funded by the contributions from their elected members MLA’s Councillors and MP’s, often in a way that is questionable e.g where salaries are paid as Poltical Advisors but much of their work is often party political.

    The actual large scale donation is pretty rare(apart from SF in the US) so any attempt to reveal donors might only serve to increase the parties reliance on ‘public money’ and not reveal much to the public.

    This needs to be thought through before action.