Latest quarterly political party donations in Northern Ireland published

Summary

Eight political parties registered in Northern Ireland reported accepting a total of £331,211 in donations and public funds in the fourth quarter of 2019, (October to December, covering the UK Parliamentary General Election), according to figures published by the Electoral Commission. This is £538,053 less than the previous quarter, between July and September 2019. 

In 2019, political parties in Northern Ireland reported accepting £3,344,747 in donations. This compares to £1,461,797 in 2018. 

Cahir Hughes, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said: 

“This is only the second full year we have been able to publish information on donations to parties in Northern Ireland, and the first time we have been able to give full information covering a UK Parliamentary general election campaign. Publishing this data allows voters to see clearly how parties in Northern Ireland are funded, enhancing public confidence and trust in our democratic process.”
 

The eight political parties to report donations including public funds were:

PartyTotal reportedDonations accepted (excl. public funds)Public funds accepted Total accepted
Alliance - Alliance Party of Northern Ireland£104,978£82,500£22,478£104,987
Democratic Unionist Party D.U.P.£76,764£0£76,764£76,764
Green Party£10,395£0£10,395£10,395
People Before Profit Alliance£4,525£0£4,525£4,525
SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party)£27,392£2,000£25,392£27,392
Sinn Féin£76,709£0£76,709£76,709
Traditional Unionist Voice - TUV£6,886£0£6,886£6,886
Ulster Unionist Party£23,561£0£23,561£23,561
Total£331,211£84,500£246,711£331,211

Political parties are required to submit quarterly donation and loan returns to the Electoral Commission. Within these returns, parties report:

  • donations accepted above the £7,500 threshold (£1,500 for accounting units)
  • smaller donations from a single donor which add together to exceed the reporting threshold 
  • donations which ought to have been reported in previous quarters; and
  • impermissible donations they have received and action taken by the party in relation to these.

As a result, this can lead to the amount reported by a party in a quarterly return exceeding the total accepted in a quarter by that party.

Parties will likely have received other donations from different individuals or bodies that are below the thresholds for reporting to the Commission. Taken as a total sum these can amount to substantial sources of income for parties.
 

Borrowing

There were no new loans reported. The Democratic Unionist Party D.U.P reported an extension to an existing credit facility in the fourth quarter of 2019. 

Donations reported by regulated donees in Q4 2019

The Commission also publishes donations accepted by regulated donees on a monthly basis. Regulated donees are members of registered political parties, holders of relevant elective office and members associations. No regulated donees reported donations or loans in the fourth quarter of 2019. 

Candidates who stood at the UK Parliamentary General Election submit their donations and spending returns to the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI). Details of candidates’ spending or donations can be obtained from EONI.
 

Further information

Further information

A summary of donations reported by Northern Ireland parties in the fourth quarter of 2019, including the highest donors and details of late reports, is available on the Commission’s website. 

We have also published the fourth quarter donations and loans for parties in Great Britain today. A press release is available

Full details of donations and public funds for political parties in Northern Ireland are available on our registers and full details of donations and public funds for political parties in Great Britain are available on our registers.
 

Notes to editors

Notes to editors

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.

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.

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. 

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

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 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.

There were 359 registered political parties in Great Britain during quarter four 2019. 62 were required to submit a quarterly donation report and 48 to submit borrowing information within the deadline. The remaining political parties were exempt (unless they received donations) because they have previously submitted four consecutive nil returns. 

More information on what constitutes a regulated donee and their legal reporting requirements is available on our website.

Members of Parliament report their accepted donations to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. 

Members of Scottish Parliament report their accepted donations to the Register of Interests for the Scottish Parliament. 

All other regulated donees report their donations directly to us. We then publish this information monthly as part of our role in providing greater transparency in political finance in the UK.