Naomi Long challenges Prime Minister over lack of NI political funding transparency

Today, Alliance East Belfast MP, Naomi Long, challenged the Prime Minister to change the rules on publication of political party donations in Northern Ireland, to ensure the same openness and transparency as in the rest of the UK.

Currently, political parties in Northern Ireland have to tell the Electoral Commission about donations over £7,500 from a single source but this information is not made public, as in the rest of the UK.

Alliance made a voluntary commitment to publish future returns in line with the GB scheme, and has followed through on that commitment, the first local party to do so. She also asked the Prime Minister to commit to voluntarily publishing the returns of the Northern Ireland Conservative Party to demonstrate his own party’s commitment to increased openness.

Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, Naomi Long MP said: “I asked the Prime Minister again today whether he would commit to changing the legislation to make local parties publish their list of significant donors as I believe the public in Northern Ireland should have access to the same information as people in England, Scotland or Wales about how political parties are funded and who their major donors are. The public can then judge for themselves whether such donors have any undue influence on party policy.

“I was disappointed by the failure of the Prime Minister to commit to implementing legislation on this issue, especially as there may be a loophole in which the Conservative Party could receive large donations through the Northern Ireland Conservative Party that would not be made public.

“Regardless of the Government position, we are keeping the promise that we made last year to publish the names of any donor who gives over £7,500 to Alliance.

“It is important that political parties are open and transparent about how they are funded and we are determined to lead change on this important issue and would challenge others to follow. Northern Ireland has moved on significantly and legislation designed for the worst of the Troubles needs to be amended to reflect the new situation.

“We cannot on one hand tell people that Northern Ireland is transformed and a safe destination for inward investment and tourism, and on the other hand continue to use security concerns as a reason to avoid being transparent about party political donations.

“If other parties are serious about openness and transparency in politics then I would urge them to join us in supporting a change in the law at Westminster to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK and, in the meantime, following Alliance in publishing the information voluntarily.”


Note to editors

Information about donations to Alliance over £7,500 from a single source can be found here.

No single source gave Alliance a donation in the last quarter of 2011 over £7,500. This figure is in line with UK rules that require political parties to provide information to the Electoral Commission on donations over £7,500 which is then published. In Northern Ireland this information is just sent to the Electoral Commission but it is not made public. We publish each quarterly return we make to the Electoral Commission

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