Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Over £270,000 in public funds given to Northern Ireland political parties - DUP top recipient with over £100,000

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The Electoral Commission has released figures showing Northern Ireland's political parties received over £275,000 worth of funding in the first quarter of 2018.

A total of £277,039 was given to parties in the province, with £271,039 coming from public funds and £6,000 from donations.

Northern Ireland's political parties receive public funds from the Assembly depending on their number of MLAs.

Between January and March of this year, the DUP and Sinn Fein were the only parties with MPs - making them the only parties eligible for funding from the House of Commons.

The DUP was the biggest recipient of public funds, with £103,848 (£55,627 coming from the Commons).

They were followed by Sinn Fein which received £80,327 (£40,412 coming from the Commons).

The SDLP received £27,481; the UUP received £23,926; Alliance Party received £18,615; and the Green Party received £16,842.

The public funding received by Northern Ireland political parties / Credit: Electoral Commission

Only the DUP and the UUP reported donations to the Electoral Commission, with £2,000 given to the UUP's North Down Association by an individual, and £4,000 given to the DUP by Belfast International Airport.

Sinn Fein failed to meet the deadline for reporting donations for the first quarter of 2018, which the Electoral Commission will now consider in line with its enforcement policy.

The only other party which failed to meet the deadline for reporting donations was the United Kingdom Veterans' and People's Party, which does not have any elected representatives in Northern Ireland.

Ann Watt, head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland said: "This is the second time that we have published data on how much funding political parties in Northern Ireland are receiving. We welcome the public scrutiny and transparency this allows within our democratic process.

“However on this occasion it is disappointing to report that two parties failed to deliver their returns on time. Where there is no reasonable explanation for such a failure we will take a robust approach in line with our Enforcement Policy.”

The publication of political donations in Northern Ireland comes after the passing of the Transparency of Donations and Loans (NI Political Parties) Order 2018 was passed in Parliament.

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