“We all want to see full transparency in politics…”

Northern Ireland Minister of State, Hugo Swire MP, has launched a public consultation [pdf file] on the confidentiality arrangements that apply to donations and loans to Northern Ireland political parties.  The closing date for the consultation is 25 October 2010.  From the NIO press release

The Minister said: “We all want to see full transparency in politics and on the funding of political parties in particular.

“But I accept there have been real concerns in Northern Ireland about intimidation which has made it difficult to achieve this to date.

“The current confidentiality arrangements expire in March and this provides the perfect opportunity to review and consult on this difficult issue.”

I’m not convinced the political parties want to see full transparency in politics and on the funding of political parties in particular…

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  • Drumlin Rock

    What are the parties current views?

  • Oh dear, everyone knows what happens when you lift a rock, all sorts of creepy crawlies run out, some even sting…

    Having said that there is cause for genuine concern, perhaps for the north only such disclosures should be made but be kept confidential.

  • Disclosed but confidential sounds silly. I meant of course: disclosed to the authorities but kept confidential by them. Sorry.

  • Dixie

    Pippakin, why not make the disclosures open for the public to view I thought “full transparency in politics” was the key phrase here.

  • Dixie

    I think full disclosure is the best course but apparently there are fears some donors might be at risk if their names were published. If the donations are legitimate it would be wrong to expose them to potential danger.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Well, when the President does it, that means that… it is not illegal.’

    President Nixon .


    Where there is law there is injustice and where there is no law there is even more injustice .

    And where there is no transparency you can forget about justice . Ask the Americans -they’re looking for 9 billion dollars that went ‘missing ‘ during the first few months of the invasion of Iraq . Not only was the money not misspent it simply was not accounted for . Gone -missing all that taxpayers money into a hole in the ground and nobody knows :(((

    NI donors can get over their fears by donating to all or the main parties -that way they can have influence with any of the elected scoundrels who clamber into office 😉

  • joeCanuck

    As much as possible, it should all be transparent. Maybe donations over a certain amount, 100 pounds say, should be public. At least the names of individuals or organizations should be publicly available on request and addresses should be disclosed to the Electoral Commission but not made publicly available.

  • Greenflag

    Nixon: “No whitewash in the Whitehouse!” 🙂

    He was an amateur, their aint enough whitewash for some politicians – on both sides!



  • Alias

    ““But I accept there have been real concerns in Northern Ireland about intimidation…”

    How real is real? I would think that if 5% of those individuals or bodies that fund politial parties are subject to intimidation as reported to the PSNI then the concern is real but if the percentage is circa 0.00001 or more likely 0 then reality is obfuscated with fluffy pink bunnies dancing around in Mr Swire’s head…

  • joeCanuck

    That’s the reason I suggested that details be provided on request. That would afford some reassurance that “baddies” cannot access the info without some risk to themselves.

  • Alias

    My point, Joe, is that there is no evidence provided by the minister to support his assertion that transparency in funding is not provided because of security concerns rather – as a cynic might see it – to protect certain political parties from embarrassement about how much of their funding comes from the British state, directly and indirectly. It would be very easy for the minister to prove his claim by producing PSNI reports of intimidation but he has not done so.

  • joeCanuck

    I don’t disagree at all. I believe that transparency in any political process is essential. It is all to easy to say “..but people may be compromised…”. If they are that fearful, they probably can donate anonymously through street collections and the like.

  • Drumlin Rock

    lets play “what if”
    what if your a business man who had £1,000 to donate to a political party, if it was Alliance you gave it too, well apart from mockery it wouldn’t do you any harm.
    With the UUP & SDLP, it normally wouldn’t be a problem, but could cause some minor hassles in some areas, could lose the odd customer!
    Now as for the DUP & SF, I’m not so sure if I would take the risk, espically if I was dependant on “the other side” for trade, but its probably no longer a physical threat.

  • DR

    ‘Probably’ is the problem..

  • Mrazik


    I’m sorry, but if we want to keep moving in the direction of ‘normal’ politics then transparency in how political parties are funded is essential. Personally, I think this is even more important in our particular political ‘system’.

  • Alias

    The public should know who is funding their political parties and what they hope to gain from the expenditure on those who have control over public affairs.

    It is a weak argument to say that the public have no right to know who is buying their hacks because such knowledge may lead to those doing the buying being violently intimidated by the public but it is a much weaker argument still to claim that the public’s ‘right to know’ should be qualified because those doing the buying might have their goods and services boycotted by the public if they disapproved.

    In reality, you’re not being told who is buying your hacks because you might not have voted for those hacks to dance to that particular piper’s commissioned tune…