Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Sinn Fein: Lift the secrecy on political party donors

Pat Doherty

Sinn Fein has called for an end to the practice which allows political parties to keep the identities of their financial donors private.

Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty made the call after the Government announced that current confidentiality arrangements would be extended for two years.

“Justifiable public cynicism is generated when it is perceived that political parties are not being open and transparent about their financial affairs,” he said.

“Vested interests being allowed to secretly contribute to political parties does a disservice to politics in general. It is a practice which needs to be brought to an end. Sinn Fein does not receive any corporate donations.”

Both the DUP and UUP believe that security remains an issue and donors should not be identified. Alliance has called for transparency levels on a par with the rest of the UK.

Last year Margeret Ritchie told SDLP members shortly after she became party leader that they would make donation details public. However, the party later did a U-turn and pressed for secrecy arrangements to be retained.

NIO minister Hugo Swire said he wanted greater transparency and would continue to attempt to find ways to implement that.

But he added: “I accept with regret that there remain concerns in Northern Ireland about intimidation which makes it difficult to achieve this.”

He said the Government would therefore extend confidentiality arrangements for a further two years.

Under the current arrangements donations above £7,500 must be declared to the Electoral Commission, but that information cannot be made public.

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