Long says donor loophole shows need for more financial transparency
February 18, 2016 10:42 AM
Alliance Deputy Leader Naomi Long has said a loophole making public information about political donors to election candidates here shows the need for more transparency around who finances local political parties more generally.
Currently, donations over £7,500 from a single source are made public in the rest of the UK but not Northern Ireland. Mrs Long secured an amendment at Westminster in 2013 that means at whenever the Secretary of State lifts the exemption, any such donation made since January 2014 will be made public.
However, a report carried today (Thursday) on The Detail website shows legislation exists which shows what each successful candidate in last May's Westminster election spent on their campaign, including donations.
Mrs Long said it appeared to conflict with the assertion by the Government and most local parties that security reasons prevented the mandatory publication of donors by parties here.
"Alliance already publishes our large donor information but others have always claimed security reasons meant they could not do likewise. However, this report shows no such exemption exists during an election campaign. The Secretary of State needs to answer why then donors cannot be made public at other times as well?
"The first opportunity for her to review the exemption was October 2014. Yet here we are all this time later and no further progress has been announced. It is unconvincing to promote Northern Ireland as safe for tourism and investment, while at the same time saying the security situation is too extreme to allow scrutiny of party finances.
"With finances of elected representatives and political parties once again on the agenda, it is vital the Secretary of State removes the exemption immediately and the public can see once and for all who funds politics here."