Green Party leader challenges parties to explain why they didn’t support backdating publication of political donations

Wednesday March 21 2018

Green Party leader Steven Agnew has called on Northern Ireland parties to explain why they supported the Secretary of State’s decision not to backdate new political donor transparency rules to 2014.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley told the House of Commons today that the decision not to backdate the publication of political donations to 2014 was consulted upon and received the ‘broad support’ of Northern Ireland’s parties.

The proposal to compel Northern Ireland parties to publish all donations and loans over £7,500 from July 1 2017 was announced by then Secretary of State James Brokenshire in December and was passed in the House of Commons last week without any debate.

“The Green Party has been calling for political donations to be published for years. Yet these new transparency rules will only be effective from last July, even though a law was passed three years ago which would have allowed donors to be publicly named from January 1 2014,” Mr Agnew said.

“Now the Secretary of State is claiming that the decision not to backdate to 2014 won the broad support of Northern Ireland’s parties – and I have to say that surprises me.

“The refusal to backdate this information makes a mockery of the notion of transparency and I would like our fellow parties in Northern Ireland to explain why they have apparently supported this strange decision.

“This measure is urgently needed to allay the concerns of Northern Ireland’s electorate. People need to know what exactly they are voting for and there will never be full transparency until we know who is holding the purse strings.

“There are major questions around the donor who helped to bankroll the pro-Brexit ads taken out in the London-based Metro by the DUP.

“The Green Party is leading the way by voluntarily publishing all donations it receives over £500 and has urged all Northern Ireland’s political parties to follow its example, but to date none has done so,” Mr Agnew said.

“Restricting transparency to donations of over £7,500 will do little to allay public concerns over dark money.”