Only Alliance wanted to reveal donors over last few years: Brokenshire

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire

The Secretary of State has said that just one party – the Alliance Party – had written to him to say the blanket of secrecy covering party donors’ details over the last few years should be lifted.

James Brokenshire revealed the news as, in a surprise move at about 12.30pm, he published the full list of responses from all the parties to his plan to make donations more transparent.

The News Letter had asked as far back as February for sight of all the parties’ responses.

The News Letter is still digesting the full set of documents, but one of them – a letter from Mr Brokenshire, dated from last month – states that “only the Alliance Party proposed that transparency should be implemented retroactively”.

Political donations – no matter what their value – have long been hidden totally from public view in Northern Ireland, allowing businesses and campaign groups to fund political parties without this being revealed.

There has been pressure to alter the law to make sure details of donations over a certain threshold are published, including who gave them.

A few days ago the Secretary of State agreed to do this – but only for donations from the start of July 2017.

This was in spite of the fact that the law allowed him to reveal donors who gave money as far back as 2014.