Northern Ireland

NI political parties get £450k in funding and donations

Cheque
Image caption The DUP received £120,000 from the Electoral Commission due to having more than two MPs in Westminster

Political parties in Northern Ireland received £450,000 in public funding and donations between April and June.

Almost £400,000 was provided through public funds while £50,000 was made by individuals and private companies.

The majority of the publically donated £400,000 was issued by The House of Commons, the NI Assembly and the Electoral Commission.

Political Parties are entitled to funds from these bodies in line with the votes they attract.

The largest donation was given to the DUP which received £121,474 from the Electoral Commission in the form of a policy development grant.

The grants are awarded to help parties in developing policies.

To be eligible a party must have at least two sitting members of the House of Commons who have taken the oath of allegiance,

Image copyright Electoral Commission
Image caption Almost £400,000 was donated through public funds while £50,000 was made by individuals and private companies

The Alliance Party received £21,561 from a company based in the Republic of Ireland called Ferring Limited.

They also received a further donation of £15,000 from The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

Sinn Féin received £17,000 from the party's MEP Martina Anderson.

Four parties - Citizens Independent Social Thought Alliance, Veterans and People's Party, WISE (Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England) Reunited and the Democrats and Veterans Party - failed to meet the deadline for reporting donations for this quarter.

Public scrutiny

In March this year, legislation was passed at Westminster to allow donations and loans of more than £7,500 to parties in Northern Ireland to be revealed for the first time.

It also says parties must report details of donations of more than £1,500 to their constituency associations.

However, the law only covers donations made to parties from 1 July 2017 onwards.

The decision not to back-date the publication of donations prompted criticism about transparency.

Until this year, Northern Ireland was exempt from UK rules that required donations of greater than £7,500 from a single source to a political party to be made public.

Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland said: "This is the third time that we have published data on how much funding political parties in Northern Ireland are receiving.

"We welcome the public scrutiny and transparency this allows within our democratic process.

"However on this occasion it is disappointing to report that four parties failed to deliver their returns on time. Where there is no reasonable explanation for such a failure we will take a robust approach in line with our enforcement policy."

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