Belfast Telegraph

Monday 26 January 2015

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Publishing party donations would be sign of hope in future

Naomi Long, Alliance Party deputy leader
Naomi Long, Alliance Party deputy leader

It would send a powerful message to inward investors if Northern Ireland's political parties were to make their donations public.

So far, the DUP, the UUP and the SDLP have all argued that donors must remain anonymous for fear of terrorist attack.

"Having someone killed, or injured" would be too high a price to pay for increasing transparency on the funding of political parties," Peter Robinson, the First Minister, told a House of Commons committee in February.

Now Gregory Campbell, one of his MPs, has signalled that the DUP may support such a move within the next two years.

It is a start, but words are cheap. We now need concrete signals of intention. Alliance, which has had its politicians and offices attacked in the last year, is the one party which so far has had the courage to voluntarily publish lists of major donors.

Naomi Long, its deputy leader, has suggested that other parties should do the same.

They could start by stating publicly that donations given after a certain date – Ms Long suggested next January – are liable to be published voluntarily. That would tell the world two important things about us.

The first is that we are a society where business leaders do not risk attack by being publicly associated with politicians.

The second is that secret donations don't buy political favours.

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