The Alliance MP was speaking after the Report and Third Reading Stages of the Bill were heard today (Monday) in the House of Commons. They mark the latest in a long campaign by Mrs Long to increase transparency of political donations in Northern Ireland, where they are not subject to the same scrutiny as in the rest of the UK.
Today’s amendment by the Government will mean the removal of permanent anonymity for single donors of £7,500 or over to political parties in Northern Ireland. The amendment is the same as that proposed by Mrs Long at an earlier stage and as a result, all donations of that size from January 2014 will be published as soon as the Secretary of State ends the local exemption, due to be reviewed in October of next year.
Naomi Long MP said: “A recent poll showed that a majority of those who expressed a preference in Northern Ireland wanted information about political donations made public, so it is clear the appetite for more transparency is there.
“Alliance already voluntarily publishes donor information on our website but it appears others do not want to follow us on a voluntary basis. This amendment will go a long way to moving transparency forward which in turn will help to rebuild public confidence in the political process.
“Since my election I have pursued the opening up of financial records for local parties, through a petition on my website and writing to the leaders of the three main parties in Britain, as well as moving a series of amendments to this Bill.
“Until the secrecy around donations is removed, the suspicion that money buys influence can never effectively be dismissed.
“Whilst I am disappointed that they did not go further and end the Northern Ireland exemption completely, I am nevertheless pleased the Government has adopted my amendment to this Bill and I hope it will go some way to protecting the public interest in Northern Ireland politics.”