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Sinn Fein tops latest party donations with £180k

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William Hampton

William Hampton

William Hampton

New figures reveal that Sinn Fein received nearly a quarter of all political funding in Northern Ireland in the first three months of 2020 in a single donation - from an eccentric dead mechanic.

The £100,000 donation made on March 4 was also the only donation to any party that did not come from the public purse.

In total, Sinn Fein received £182,421 in the first quarter of this year - the highest figure in Northern Ireland, according to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission.

In 2019, Sinn Fein was given what is believed to be the biggest ever gift to a party here, when William E Hampton left it £1.5m.

Mr Hampton died at the age of 82 in a nursing home in Wales in January 2018, leaving an estate of around £2.6m. However, it later transpired that the former motor mechanic and driver was worth much more, with the money still coming in.

It was reported that he had mental health issues and at one stage mutilated himself.

He is known to have spent extended periods of time living in his camper van in Ireland and resided in West Cork in the 1980s, purchasing a property in a townland near Bantry.

Written in June 1997, Mr Hampton's will shows he made Sinn Fein national treasurers, Dessie Mackin and Joe Cahill, its executors and trustees. The pensioner, who was unmarried and had no children, was born in London and was a long-term supporter of Sinn Fein.

In total, six parties here reported accepting a total of £429,766 in donations and public funds from January to March.

This compares to £270,874 in donations in the first quarter of 2019. The DUP received £147,514; the SDLP got £47,905; the Ulster Unionists received £23,510; Alliance received £16,922, and the Greens received £11,494 - all from public funds.

Cahir Hughes, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said: "Publishing this data allows voters to see clearly how parties are being funded, enhancing public confidence and trust in our democratic processes. We welcome the fact that many parties have delivered their donation reports to us on time despite the current challenging circumstances caused by Covid-19. Where parties were unable to meet the deadline for reasons relating to the pandemic, we will continue to work with them to ensure transparency of their donations."

In Great Britain, the Conservative Party received the highest amount of donations. The Tories reported receiving £4.04m, a mix of donations and public funds, between January 1 and March 31 2020.

The 17 political parties registered in the UK reported accepting a total of £11.79m during the first quarter, up from £9.16m during the same period in 2019.

Labour declared that it received £3.88m, the Liberal Democrats £1.27m and the Scottish National Party £418,305.

Belfast Telegraph