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Positive move for Northern Ireland political transparency undermined by Government back-tracking

19th July 2017, London – Moves to bring about full transparency over who funds Northern Ireland’s political parties are welcome, but this should include the period from 2014-2017 according to Transparency International.

The UK Government has recently announced it intends to bring about legislation that requires all political parties in Northern Ireland to publicly reveal the source of donations and loans. However it intends this information to start from 1st July 2017, despite legislation being passed in 2014 that exposed Northern Irish party funding from 1st January 2014 to potential future publication.

Transparency International firmly believes publication of who is funding Northern Irish politics must have effect from the earliest possible opportunity – in this case 2014. Since then Northern Ireland’s political parties have already fought and fundraised for two election campaigns for the Northern Ireland Assembly, the European Union membership referendum, and two elections to the UK Westminster Parliament.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy Transparency International UK, said:

“The passing of legislation in 2014 to enable full transparency means that any individual or organisation making donations to a political party in Northern Ireland should have known that their identity could be revealed. Belatedly giving effect to that legislation is hardly ‘retrospective’. There is no longer any excuse for anonymity in the funding of political parties. ”

“Since the period from 2014-2017 covers two General Elections and the Brexit Referendum, it is all the more important that the public should know who sought to influence these votes with their donations. That the new Government now relies on the confidence of a Northern Irish political party demonstrates how these matters are of consequence to the whole country.”

“It’s not immediately clear why at the same time as commencing donor transparency the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would choose to still block publication of who has funded Northern Ireland’s political parties in the past 3 years. From the published submissions to his consultation, what is clear is that he has acted in line with the position of the DUP and not that of the Northern Ireland Conservatives. This carve-out threatens to undermine what would otherwise be a very positive and much-needed step, after Northern Ireland has spent so long as an anomaly in UK party finance transparency.”

***ENDS***

Notes to Editors:

Sections 1 and 2 of the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (NIMPA 2014) made amendments to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) that gives the Secretary of State the power to make an Order permitting the Electoral Commission to publish the details of all donation and loan reports submitted to it by Northern Ireland political parties after 1 January 2014.

See NIMPA 2014’s Explanatory Notes for more information.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/13/notes/division/3/1

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/13/notes/division/3/2

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/13/notes/division/3/3

Contact:
Dominic Kavakeb
dominic.kavakeb@transparency.org.uk
020 3096 7695
07949 6456 0340

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Read 29 times Last modified on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 13:24

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