Anonymous donations to political parties undermines public faith in the democratic process, the Green Party has said.
The party has criticised the Northern Ireland Office for its decision to extend the legislation that keeps the identity of parties’ donors under wraps, in contrast to Great Britain where major donors must be named.
The Green Party in Northern Ireland, which does not accept corporate donations, has given a commitment to publish any personal donations over £1000 by the end of the month and over £500 before the elections in May.
Rebecca Volley, Green candidate for Castlereagh South in the local government election, said: “Too much secrecy surrounds politics in Northern Ireland. How can voters be sure their representatives are acting in constituents’ interests if they don’t know who is funding their campaigns?
“Only the Green Party goes into this election with a commitment to bring transparency to funding, council business and elected representatives’ financial interests.”
Clare Bailey, Green Party Assembly candidate for Belfast South, added: “The murky world of party funding is one reason many people in Northern Ireland have become disillusioned with politics. It is time for change. The Greens are setting an example – will the other parties follow?”
A consultation by the NIO on anonymous donations found 77% of respondents – including all of those not attached to a political party – wanted information on party donors to be published.
Green Party leader Steven Agnew commented: “There is no democracy without transparency and we have been calling for this legislation to be changed since last year. The DUP, UUP and SDLP all wanted to keep the public in the dark and it seems that the NIO has bowed to political pressure rather than listening to what the public actually wants and what democracy demands.
“In Northern Ireland we have seen a number of examples where the perceived links between property developers and politicians and their parties have led to the suspicion that decisions are being made that are not in the public’s interest but instead in the interests of those who fund political campaigns. While no wrong has been proven, it cannot be disproved due to the shroud of secrecy around party. Therefore the public perception that politics is corrupt.”