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Transparency of political finance in Northern Ireland

Published: 23 Nov 2017

Updated

In response to the announcement thatthe ‘Transparency of Donations & Loans (Northern Ireland Political Parties) Order 2018’ has now been laid in Parliament Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland said:

“We are pleased that the UK Government has acted to make this important change a reality. Transparency in how our political parties are funded is key to ensuring public trust and confidence in the democratic process. We hope to be able to begin publishing this information early in the New Year.”

Statement

The Electoral Commission has today expressed its disappointment that it remains unable to publish the details of political donations and loans in Northern Ireland, because the UK Government has not yet made the necessary legislation.

In July the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced that he would bring forward legislation to enable the publication of donations and loans received by political parties in Northern Ireland from 1 July 2017.

The Electoral Commission had expected to publish the first set of data on donations to Northern Ireland political parties today, alongside the information on donations to political parties in Great Britain. However, it is unable to do so as the necessary legislation has not been made. Because of this the Commission continues to be prohibited from publishing any information relating to donations and loans received by political parties in Northern Ireland.

In response to this, Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland said:

“We are extremely disappointed that we are unable to provide the public with the information they expected on how political parties in Northern Ireland are funded. The continuing secrecy only serves to undermine trust and confidence amongst the public in the democratic process.

We were consulted by the Northern Ireland Office several months ago on draft legislation and provided detailed comments. In our view the legislation is ready to be laid in Parliament now.

The Commission urges the UK Government to immediately bring forward this legislation to allow us to publish this information as soon as possible.”

Ends

For further information please contact Cahir Hughes on 028 9089 4023 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk Out of office hours - 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

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