Speaking during the Second Stage reading of the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in the House of Commons today (Monday), Alliance representative Mrs Long said she believed publication of political donors in Northern Ireland should be introduced as standard, with potential contributors then able to choose whether they wish to donate to parties.
The East Belfast MP has repeatedly called for other parties to follow Alliance’s lead and publish political donations, including previously raising the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions. In Britain, donations over £7,500 from a single source to a political party are made public, however, in Northern Ireland the information is only given to the Electoral Commission. Alliance voluntarily publishes its donor list on its website.
Naomi Long MP said: “The public in Northern Ireland have a right to know the identity of significant donors to political parties, in line with the rest of the UK. They can then judge for themselves whether such donations influence the decisions, policy and actions of parties.
“Indeed, donor information in NI is so opaque that it is against the law for the Electoral Commission to even confirm or deny the amount of donations declared. Such anonymous data poses no threat to anyone and would provide considerable insight for the public into how parties are funded.
“As long as mystery surrounds this, parties will be open to the charge that they are influenced and will be unable to defend themselves against such accusations. While the security situation is far from perfect, it has improved dramatically since donor anonymity has begun.
“In the week following the G8, where the Prime Minister maintained that Northern Ireland was open for business and tourism, it is not consistent to argue that the security situation is so grave that normal democratic scrutiny cannot take place.”