Belfast Telegraph

Name the donors, Northern Ireland's political parties are urged

There is strong public support for parties to publish political donations, despite claims by unionists that donors would be at risk.

In Britain all donations of £7,500 are published on the Electoral Commission's website.


Here the Electoral Commission is given details of the donations but is forbidden to publish them on security grounds.


The commission is only allowed to publish overall figures, with no names or statistical breakdown of where donations came from.


Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State, is due to review the situation in October of next year.


We asked respondents whether the same rule should apply as in Britain, whether a lower threshold than £7,500 should be set for the declaration of donations or whether "it is too dangerous to publish the names of party donors here".


Only a third (33%) chose the last option and when the 23.6% of respondents who were undecided were taken out of the equation this rose to 43.1%.


The remainder felt the names of donors should be published.


Within this pro-publication group those who wanted donations under £7,500 made public had 29.6% compared to the 27.3% who wanted the UK standard.


So far unionist parties are the main opponents of early publication.


They favour it in the long run but argue that the time is not right because the security situation is still uncertain.




However most Protestants don't share their fears and were generally more in favour of disclosure than Catholics.


Only 26.7% of Protestants chose the "too dangerous" option compared to 39.5% of Catholics.


Even counting the 22.3% who were undecided, a narrow majority of 51% of Protestants felt that donations should be published.


For Catholics the figure in favour of publication was 43%, though 16.3% were undecided.


Currently Sinn Fein and the Alliance Party both publish donations voluntarily on their websites.


Billl White of LucidTalk, the pollsters, said more women (26.1%) than men (20.9%) felt it was still too dangerous to publish political donors.


Support for publication held fairly steady across the age range but older voters tended to favour the lower threshold option.


Follow the latest updates and reaction to this story on Storify:

View the story "Belfast Telegraph/LucidTalk Poll 2013" on Storify

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