Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland party donations published for first time

Donations to Northern Ireland political parties have been published for the first time.

The nine political parties reported accepting a total of £832,489 in donations and public funds between July 1 and December 30 2017.

The publication comes after the Transparency of Donations and Loans  (NI Political Parties) Order 2018 was passed in parliament, allowing the Electoral Commission to publish donation details.

Donations to Northern Ireland political parties from July 2017 to September 2017. Credit: Electoral Commission.

Ann Watt, head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said: “For over ten years political parties in Northern Ireland have been required to report information on the donations and loans that they have received, but we have been prohibited from publishing this information.

“Transparency is an essential component to increasing public confidence in the democratic process. Information on how political parties, candidates and other campaigners raise and spend money should be open to timely public scrutiny. We are delighted that as of today we are now able to provide the public with information.

“To further enhance this transparency we will continue to urge the UK Government to bring forward legislation that will enable us to publish the information we hold on donations and loans dating back to January 2014.”

Donations to Northern Ireland political parties from October 2017 to December 2017. Credit: Electoral Commission.

Unlike the rest of the UK, the identities of party donors in Northern Ireland have historically remained secret due to concerns over security.

The new measures compel Northern Ireland parties to publish all donations and loans over £7,500 from July 1, 2017.

It had been argued the donations published should go back to July 2014, as had been originally intended, but this was later amended.

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