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Sinn Fein back on attack over 'dark money' funding for DUP's Brexit campaign

By Chris McCullough

The DUP still has serious questions to answer over the "dark money" it received to support the Brexit campaign, Sinn Fein insisted yesterday.

Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion was speaking after a party delegation met the Electoral Commission to discuss its concerns over the £435,000 donation.

But she was unable to say how much Sinn Fein had spent on its own Brexit campaigning.

In February the DUP confirmed it received the donation from pro-Union business people.

It said £425,000 of the money from the Constitutional Research Council (CRC) was spent on pro-Brexit advertising.

The Electoral Commission is not investigating the issue.

However, a delegation from Sinn Fein went to meet the commission yesterday morning.

Ahead of the meeting Sinn Fein had come under pressure from the DUP over its own funding sources, with North Antrim election candidate Ian Paisley among those raising questions.

Afterwards, Ms McCallion told the Belfast Telegraph her party had nothing to fear about revealing its donors.

But she added that legislation must be in place before total transparency can be achieved.

She said: "The Electoral Commission made it very clear that they can't speak specifically about any individual donation but what they did tell us was there is a live ongoing investigation into the spending of the Leave DUP campaign.

"There is huge outcry from the public in relation to this dark money.

"This could be very easily resolved if the DUP came out today and shone a light upon the donations and in fact told us the true nature of the donations that were made last year.

"This opens up the discussion once again in relation to electoral reform in the North.

"We have always been of the opinion that donations should be a matter for public consumption and we raised that again with the Electoral Commission today.

"Clearly, there are answers that we need to have and the only people, unfortunately at this stage, that can give us those answers are the DUP.

"At any stage it is important that we show as much transparency as we can in relation to any donations.

"This matter has been brought to light again by the media very recently and public concern is at an all-time high once again to possible corruption associated with the DUP."

In terms of Sinn Fein's own Brexit Remain campaign, Ms McCallion did not known how much her party had spent in the process.

Ms McCallion was asked about her party's own donations and when the party would reveal its donors.

She responded: "We have been very clear in relation to our donations.

"We would be very much in favour of all parties revealing their donations and we have had that position for a long time. We would agree that donations should be a matter for the public."

Asked if Sinn Fein would take the lead in revealing party donations, she added: "There needs to be legislative change in relation to that but Sinn Fein have clearly said we are of the opinion that donations should be a matter of public consumption.

"Unfortunately, the law and the legislation does not allow for that at present, but we are in favour of that in the future."

Sinn Fein politicians had initially refused to leave the building to speak to the Press at the party's own pre-arranged media conference.

The hesitancy came because victims' campaigner Willie Frazer (inset, left) was waiting for them in the car park.

Arrangements to stage the Press conference were hastily rearranged and it was secretly moved across the Ormeau Road to the UTV car park, without Mr Frazer, as no one had informed him of the change.

Earlier this week DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "We have satisfied ourselves that it was all kept within the rules, and we are satisfied the money came from UK business people."

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