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NI parties may have to reveal details of donors

By Michael McHugh

The Government is considering revealing full details of party political donors in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has written to local parties asking whether the time is right to move to complete openness and publish details of gifts and loans.

Northern Ireland was not included in an earlier scheme requiring the reporting of donations of more than £7,500 over fears donors would be intimidated if their details were made public.

Belfast City councillors this week supported disclosing the names of those who make large donations to politicians.

Mr Brokenshire said: "I would now like to seek views on whether the time is now right to move towards full transparency on donations and loans and to implement a change to the rules as soon as possible, bringing Northern Ireland into step with the wider UK."

The parties' views will be sought on ending the current arrangements, which require full confidentiality.

The Conservative Cabinet member added: "The political and security context in Northern Ireland has changed significantly since the last consultation on this issue and I know that political parties have been reflecting carefully on their previous positions."

Alliance MLA David Ford had called for full transparency. He said: "This is a welcome move, despite the fact the Secretary of State could simply make the change right now with a sweep of his pen."

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