“I recognise and support the desire for full transparency in politics…”

Last month Gonzo noted the UK “Government’s response to the public consultation on the confidentiality arrangements that apply to donations and loans to Northern Ireland political parties.”

NIO minister Hugo Swire was quite explicit that the reason the identities of donors to political parties would remain secret was the threat of intimidation.

But it’s possibly worth highlighting one of the Government’s proposals in particular [pdf file]

13. There remains strong opposition from some sources to the release of all details of all reported donations and loans made since 1 November 2007 when the prescribed period has ended. There are concerns that this would be contrary to the expectations of donors at the time they donated and would be a source of distress to them.

14. Provision to prevent publication of these donations and loans after the prescribed period has ended can only be made through primary legislation and extending the prescribed period by two years provides an opportunity to take forward such legislation. The Government will bring forward such primary legislation within the next two years to ensure that the identities of donors who made donations during the prescribed period – including any extended periods – will not be released after the prescribed period has expired. [added emphasis]

Will not be released for how long?  Perhaps such information could be “prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs in Northern Ireland or to the work of the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly”…

Adds  Just to be clear.

What’s being proposed is that, even when the level of threat of intimidation is judged to have fallen sufficiently to be able to identify political party donors and lenders, we still will not be able to know who has been providing those donations and loans up to that point.

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