Donations and public funds

Over £250,000 in donations and public funds were accepted by Northern Ireland’s main political parties in the first quarter of 2018.

Six political parties in Northern Ireland reported donations and public funds to a total of £277,039 in donations and political funds between 1 January and 31 March 2018.

The majority of the finance came from public funds, with only two parties, the DUP (£4,000) and the UUP (£2,000), reporting donations. The rest of the money was for parties’ respective representation in Stormont and the Westminster.

The recent release was only the second publication of data on how much political parties in Northern Ireland are receiving after the passing of the Transparency of Donations and Loans (NI Political Parties) Order 2018.

Belfast International Airport Limited were the donors of £4,000 to the DUP via its North Antrim Westminster Association, while James Kingan a former UUP party candidate donated £2,000 to the UUP through their North Down Association.

As Sinn Féin and the DUP were the only parties with MPs in 2018, they were the only parties eligible for funding from the House of Commons.

The Electoral Commission revealed that two parties, Sinn Féin and United Kingdom Veteran’s and People’s Party failed to meet the deadline for reporting donations for the quarter and the Commission are now considering each matter in line with its enforcement policy.

Welcoming the “public scrutiny and transparency” the publication of party donations allows within the democratic process, Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, added that it was “disappointing” that two parties had 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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