Transparency legislation does not go far enough

The Green Party in Northern Ireland has hit out at proposed draft legislation which is supposed to increase transparency around donations and loans to political parties in Northern Ireland saying it does not go far enough.

A consultation on the proposal to increase the amount of information released to the public about whom or what companies are donating or giving loans to political parties has just been launched.

However, Green Party NI say the proposals contained in the draft legislation are piecemeal and still deny the electorate in Northern Ireland the right to see who is really pulling the strings in politics through funding and donation of political parties.

“The Green Party in Northern Ireland will continue to lead the way on this issue by publishing all our donations over £500 online whilst also not accepting corporate donations,” Green Party Leader Steven Agnew MLA said.

“Every political decision in Northern Ireland is open to questions of undue influence from vested interests – from planning decisions to procurement contracts, the question is always asked: ‘was this decision made in the public interest or in the interests of party funders?’.

“As it stands at the moment, what is proposed in this draft legislation does not go far enough as donors can still hide behind a veil of secrecy.

“Politics in Northern Ireland needs to be normalised and lack of full transparency regarding the financing of political parties does nothing to engender trust in the political process.

“Particularly with planning powers about to be transferred to the new super councils.

“A loophole means councillors will not be required to declare if a developer who may be seeking planning permission funds their party.

“Instead, councillors simply are called on to adhere to a code of conduct.

“The Green Party has been campaigning long and hard to make sure the electorate has the full picture of whose money is supporting political parties before they give their vote.

“Quite simply, there can be no democracy without transparency and again the people of Northern Ireland have been denied the appropriate insight to enable them to judge which parties are working for them and not to the direction of big business funders.
“We need politics for the common good in Northern Ireland and this will only happen when there is full transparency on funding.” Mr Agnew said.

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