Steven Agnew disappointed over failure to backdate political donation rules


Green Party Leader Steven Agnew has expressed deep disappointment that proposed new rules on publishing political donations will not be backdated to January 1 2014.


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 today without any debate.


The North Down MLA had called for the publication of political donations should be backdated to 1st January 2014.


“I am deeply disappointed that the Conservative Party whipped its MPs to pass this controversial vote instead of allowing leeway for the publication of political donors to be backdated to 2014,” he said.


“It makes a mockery of the notion of transparency that the Tories performed this sleight of hand, apparently in order to provide cover for their friends in the DUP.


“The Green Party has been making the case for donor transparency as far back as 2010.


“But 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.


“People are rightly questioning what kind of deals some of the Northern Ireland parties may have buried and why the UK government is providing cover for them.


“The people of Northern Ireland urgently need to know who exactly could be working behind the scenes to influence our politicians.


“For example, 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.


“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.


“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.”

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