David Ford, Alliance Leader, has called on the British and Irish Governments to take action together to clean up political fund-raising and close the existing gaps in the law.
David Ford said:
“I have written to both the Secretary of State and the Irish Justice Minister to ask them to examine what joint action they might take to deal with the current problems in the law concerning political fund raising.
“The British Government is just completing a consultation on the current law, which provides exemptions from record-keeping and declarations by
parties in Northern Ireland. Alliance believes that the same strict law should apply throughout these islands.
“If parties in England, Scotland and Wales are required to declare all major donations and banned from foreign fund-raising, this should also apply in Northern Ireland. Since some parties operate on both sides of the border, it is reasonable that the controls should apply to the UK plus Ireland as a whole.
“Most importantly, foreign fund raising is no more acceptable for parties in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK.
“I have no problems with jumble sales in Dublin funding election activity in Belfast, or coffee mornings in Antrim funding activities in Cork, provided it is properly regulated.
“However, the law was introduced to stop some dubious donations by very rich people living outside the UK, and this is just as relevant in Northern Ireland.
“Mr Spellar, the responsible Minister in the NIO, has agreed to meet me to consider this issue and I also hope to meet the Irish Government in the near future. Alliance will continue to emphasise the need to clean up political funding here.”