Party donors 'face terror threat'
Published 26/02/2013 | 13:01
The threat to political donors from terrorism in Northern Ireland should be taken seriously, the leader of the DUP has said.
Benefactors are not named in Northern Ireland over fears they could be intimidated, unlike in Great Britain where gifts over a certain amount have to be declared.
Peter Robinson cautioned against a cavalier attitude to full transparency and said business people had been attacked because of their association with the security forces or one section of the community.
He challenged the theory that donors received special favours and said he could not remember any donations to his party worth more than £5,000. "It is not worth having someone killed or injured to remove perceptions," he said.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is considering possible changes to how the devolved Assembly at Stormont is run.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs took evidence from Mr Robinson at Stormont on Tuesday.
The East Belfast MLA, First Minister at the cross-party powersharing Assembly, said disclosing party donations could be seen as indicating a preference for one of the two traditions of unionism or nationalism, thus having a commercial impact. He said most donations came from individuals within businesses rather than companies themselves.
The Green Party in Northern Ireland wants to name major donors.
Mr Robinson said: "I don`t think we have reached a stage where you could rule out the possibility of being targeted because they are associated with one party or other. There is a distinct threat and it is easy for parties who are unlikely to get anybody to donate to them to try and stop other parties from getting donations.
"We have had an ongoing terrorist threat for many decades, business people have been attacked as a result of their association either with the security forces or with one section of the community or the other. We cannot be cavalier about these issues, they are very real issues."