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Details of political party donations in Northern Ireland published for first time

Published: 12 Mar 2018

Nine political parties registered in Northern Ireland reported accepting a total of £832,489 in donations and public funds between 1 July and 30 December 2017 –according to figures published for the first time in Northern Ireland by the Electoral Commission.

The Transparency of Donations and Loans etc. (Northern Ireland Political Parties) Order 2018 now allows the Commission to publish information about donations and loans reported by Northern Ireland political parties and other regulated entities from 1 July 2017 onwards.

From July 2017 to September 2017 nine political parties reported receiving:

Party

Donations

Public funds

Total

Alliance - Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

£7,500

£16,444

£23,944

Conservative and Unionist Party

£7,980

£0

£7,980

Democratic Unionist Party - D.U.P.

£4,999

£197,986

£202,985

Green Party

£0

£11,411

£11,411

People Before Profit Alliance

£8,000

£5,119

£13,119

SDLP (Social Democratic & Labour Party)

£0

£24,419

£24,419

Sinn Féin

£109,548

£85,545

£195,093

Traditional Unionist Voice - TUV

£0

£6,666

£6,666

Ulster Unionist Party

£0

£24,219

£24,219

Total

£138,027

£371,809

£509,836

From October 2017 to December 2017 eight political parties reported receiving:

Party

Donations

Public funds

Total

Alliance - Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

£7,500

£13,968

£21,468

Democratic Unionist Party - D.U.P.

£0

£87,050

£87,050

Green Party

£0

£13,336

£13,336

People Before Profit Alliance

£2,000

£4,750

£6,750

SDLP (Social Democratic & Labour Party)

£2,000

£25,129

£27,129

Sinn Féin

£57,831

£78,204

£136,035

Traditional Unionist Voice - TUV

£0

£6,666

£6,666

Ulster Unionist Party

£0

£24,219

£24,219

Total

£69,331

£253,322

£322,653

Registered political parties in Northern Ireland are required to ensure that any donations received over £500 come from a permissible source. This can include individuals on the UK electoral register, Irish citizens or UK or Irish companies. Any donation from the same source to the central party with a value over £7,500 must be reported to the Electoral Commission on a quarterly basis. Accounting units and other regulated entities such as elected representatives are also required to report donations over £1,500 to the Commission.

Regular donations made to a political party or other regulated entity from the same source must also be recorded and ‘aggregated’. Once this aggregated figure exceeds the threshold of £7,500 or £1,500 then it must be reported to the Commission.

Commenting on the publication of the first set of data on political donations Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland said:

“For over ten years political parties in Northern Ireland have been required to report information on the donations and loans that they have received, but we have been prohibited from publishing this information.

“Transparency is an essential component to increasing public confidence in the democratic process. Information on how political parties, candidates and other campaigners raise and spend money should be open to timely public scrutiny. We are delighted that as of today we are now able to provide the public with information.

“To further enhance this transparency we will continue to urge the UK Government to bring forward legislation that will enable us to publish the information we hold on donations and loans dating back to January 2014.”

The Commission will now publish information about donations and loans to Northern Ireland parties each quarter, alongside the publication of the data for parties in Great Britain. The next publication of data (2018 Q1) is expected to be in late May.

Further information

Full details of donations and public funds are available on our registers here.

No regulated donees (such as MLAs, MPs etc) reported donations over £1,500 during this period.

Ends:

For further information please the Electoral Commission press office on 028 9089 4023 or email CHughes@electoralcommission.org.uk

For out of hours queries, please call 07789 920 414.

Notes to editors

1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focussing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

2. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) requires registered parties to report cash and non-cash donations and borrowing to the Electoral Commission on a quarterly basis. Political parties must report all donations and borrowing over £7,500 relating to the central party, or over £1,500 relating to an accounting unit. This includes aggregates of donations and loans from the same source during the calendar year. Once the central party has reported a donation or aggregate donation over £7,500 it must report each subsequent donation of more than £1,500 from that source.

3. As the parties only report donations and loans over these thresholds, the figures do not include all donations and loans to political parties. Donations and loans under these thresholds are recorded in political parties’ annual Statements of Accounts. To view these accounts, visit our register here.

4. Public funds are donations from the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Electoral Commission. ‘Short’ and ‘Cranborne’ grants are available to parties in opposition in the House of Commons or House of Lords respectively.

5. Some donations appear on the register as being from the Electoral Commission. These are Policy Development Grants, which were established by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 for parties represented in the Commons by two or more sitting members. The grants are intended to assist parties in developing the policies that they will present in an election manifesto. The legislation provides the total sum of £2 million annually for all eligible political parties for this purpose. Policy Development Grants became reportable as donations for the first time in quarter three of 2006 as a result of the Electoral Administration Act 2006.

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Journalist