An organisaton which campaigns internationally against corruption has said James Brokenshire’s decision not to pursue maximum publication of donor names gives rise to “concern that the UK government is backsliding” on its commitment to bring Northern Ireland in line with rules on the mainland UK.
Mr Brokenshire decided this week that he will move towards finally publishing the names of major political donors in Northern Ireland – something which, uniquely in the UK, has always been hidden.
However, although he has the power to unveil donors dating back to the start of 2014, he has now said he will only to reveal the names of people and businesses who gave large sums of money (or loans) to parties from this July onwards.
Transparency International, a UK charity with branches across the world, said that Parliament had “clearly intended for any contributions given to a Northern Ireland political party after January 1, 2014, to be made public in the same way as it is in the rest of the UK... anything short of this will give the impression that the government is giving in to vested interests that prefer secrecy”.
It added: “There are already strong suspicions that the secrecy around political donations in Northern Ireland allows the system to be abused, and this should not be allowed to continue.”