“They are one and the same thing as far as we’re concerned…”

If you’re going to ban corporate donations to political parties then it is, at least, consistent to also seek to ban donations from trade unions as the Green Party are proposing.

Chairman of the Greens Senator Dan Boyle said yesterday that the party recognised no distinction between political donations from a business corporation and a trade union.

“They are one and the same thing as far as we’re concerned: it’s the same principle. That legislation is being prepared by the department for the autumn.”

It was envisaged that no distinction would be made between business corporations and “corporate bodies in general, including trade unions”, none of whom would be allowed to make political donations.

That is, if you’re going to ban corporate donations.

Because those political parties will seek alternative sources to finance their activities.  And the most obvious one will be even more public funding.

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  • Yes, it does seem that large political donations whether from well-wishers, benefactors or those seeking access to power structures, are given with a view to influencing those with wealth, power and authority.

    Trade union donations just as those from big business ought to be prohibited. No gift of over £100 or Euro ought to be allowed and political parties, all of them including independents should be subject to financial scrutiny on an anual basis by an independent body.

    Those elected should be given a small sum annually (toward office, secretarial and research costs) from the Exchequer based on their first preference votes only. And no member of parliament north or south should be allowed continue in parliament longer than ten years.

    Would these few suggestions help make a start in clearing up expenses corruption and power abuse ?

  • joeCanuck

    Be careful. A few years back Canada barred such political donations and replaced them with a public subsidy, a dollar or two for each vote you got in the previous election. Now the ruling minority party is trying to have those public subventions removed since their Conservative party raise a lot more in small individual donations than either of the other two main parties. Small parties, like the Greens, would be wiped off the political map. Their first clumsy attempt failed, given that they are a minority government, but they have promised to bring it back, when opportune.

  • willis

    Is there a political fund opt in/out in ROI? In the UK individual Trade Unionists can choose not to have a portion of their membership fee paid to any political party (usually Labour).

  • DerTer

    Following willis, in the UK the issue of union political funds and membership decisions to opt in or out is fairly clear (although the position in NI – no less clear – is different to that in Britain). I’ve tried this evening to discover the legal position in the Republic, but to no avail. Can anyone enlighten us?
    If there is in fact an individual membership decision involved in respect of contributions to a political fund, this of course makes union donations to political parties (or in pursuit of any particular union political objective) a very different animal to corporate donations from business, where the decision is not made by shareholders but by senior management, or the executive board – or whatever.
    Dan Boyle and the Greens might have to look at this again.

  • sammaguire

    Yes I agree with the Greens on this. Trade Union contributions should be treated exactly the same way as a contributions from big business. If Gilmore is the next Taoiseach and his party has been part funded by the Trade Unions surely he’s compromised in Government/Union negotiations. Keep the vested interest groups out of it and let the taxpayers fund the political parties.

  • EWI

    I’ve tried this evening to discover the legal position in the Republic, but to no avail. Can anyone enlighten us?

    I don’t know the legal position, but I’ve never discovered any way to unsubscribe on an individual trade unionist basis (and I’ve asked). I know that this has come up in the past year or two in the context of anti-trade union noises by the middle-class professional types now ascendant in the ILP, but trade union apparatchiks have squashed any and all attempts to progress it to some real action.