Donations over £7,500 from a single source to a political party are made public in the rest of the UK; however in Northern Ireland this information is not currently published. Naomi Long secured an amendment at Westminster in 2013 that will mean that at some point in the future, any such donation made since January 2014 will be published, but the Secretary of State has not indicated when this will happen.
Cllr Andrew Muir said: “It is very disappointing that DUP Councillors on North Down and Ards Council again voted against increasing openness and transparency in politics. My passion to clean up politics remains strong despite the opposition from other parties.
“Peter Robinson claimed in 2014 that the DUP would be prepared to publish details around donations over £7,500, so it appears that this was merely talk and his party will not support measures to release information on donations. The UUP and SDLP need to explain their position as their dithering and foot dragging is making them irrelevant on this issue.
“With planning powers coming to Councils on 1st April and Councillors voting on planning applications, it is vital we retain public confidence, but without transparency around donations there is a strong risk this will be lost. The public have a right to know when Councillors will be making decisions on planning issues that involves individuals who have made large donations to their party.
“Naomi Long secured a massive victory for openness and transparency when she changed the law in Westminster to ensure that all political donations over £7,500 made since January 2014 will be published when the Secretary of State deems that the security situation is acceptable. Alliance already voluntarily releases information on our donations, it is time that donations to all parties was published to build public trust and end the whiff of corruption surrounding local politics.
“We cannot say that Northern Ireland is a good place to invest but then claim that the security situation is not stable for the publication of donations.”
That this Council notes that current arrangements in Northern Ireland do not permit publication of information concerning who has made donations or loans to political parties above current UK wide thresholds, agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland requesting an end to the anonymity provided whilst also requesting the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland explores how public confidence in the new Planning set-up could be strengthened by enabling publication of details concerning land or properties which the donor or lender has an financial interest in if such land or properties are likely to be affected by a Planning Application or Area Plan decision due to be taken by a Local Authority in Northern Ireland or the Department for the Environment.