Voters should be concerned with political donations, says Long

Alliance East Belfast Westminster candidate Naomi Long has said voters should ask parties for their stance on political donors ahead of the election.

The Alliance Leader said some parties had confusing and contradictory positions on the matter, on one hand calling for transparency but on the other not revealing donors voluntarily, unlike Alliance.

Thanks to legislation Mrs Long secured in Westminster while previously an MP, anyone donating £7,500 or over in a single payment to a local party since January 2014 can be revealed publicly when the Secretary of State lifts the exemption and brings Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

However, she said nothing was stopping other parties giving that information to the public now.

“Alliance has led the way on donor transparency, voluntarily publishing our donors in line with UK law. Other parties talk before elections about doing it but their actions post-election do not match their pledges. Only Alliance and the Green Party back up their pledges with action.

“The UUP has recently talked about revealing donors, but its Councillors on Belfast City Council voted against doing just that. The DUP first committed to end donor secrecy in May 2014, restated it in their manifesto last May, yet they still refuse to do so, and are now caught in a controversy around ‘dark money’ linked to the Brexit campaign. The SDLP likewise talk about being in favour of transparency yet fail to follow through and publish, whilst Sinn Fein claim to be transparent yet include no link to their returns on their website.

“The public desire for openness and transparency in politics has never been higher. People want a change in direction away from secrecy and towards more openness. Now they have an opportunity to press candidates on the doorstep asking for their vote whether they support full donor transparency, and if so, why their party hasn’t done anything practical to deliver it.

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