Is it time to burst the bubble surrounding the political parties in Northern Ireland regarding the sources of their party funding?
Friends of the Earth’s Northern Ireland Director today (4 September) said the upcoming start of the new Parliamentary session was an opportunity to clean up politics.[caption id="attachment_40364" align="alignright" width="390"] The Friends of the Earth are calling for transparency over political party funding.[/caption]
The campaigning group handed over 4,500 postcards signed by the public calling on the Secretary of State to reveal who funds Northern Ireland’s political parties.
James Orr said: “It’s time to sweep away the secrecy, rumours, and mistrust. The Secretary of State has the power to reveal where Northern Ireland’s political parties get their funds. She should listen to the people of Northern Ireland, not the parties trying to conceal the identities of their donors. What do they have to hide? The people of Northern Ireland would like to know.”
Mr Orr said the two largest parties in the Executive needed to stand up for their principles: “The DUP has claimed it supports the principle of transparency. The Red Sky affair, however, raises serious questions about the party’s dealings with business. The party needs to come clean to reassure the electorate that it has the public interest at heart.”
Mr Orr added: “Sinn Féin has repeatedly stated it believes there should be full transparency, and claims it publishes the names of its donors. It does no such thing . If it expects to gain people’s trust Sinn Féin must act on its rhetoric and publish the names of its donors immediately. To do otherwise is to play games with the electorate.
“Political donor transparency is just one of a number of attacks on Northern Ireland’s fragile democracy.
“Democracy is dying in Northern Ireland. It is being killed by donor secrecy, limitations on people’s right to challenge Government decisions, the fear of legal action for reasonable speculation about party relationships, the continued abuse of Assembly procedures designed to prevent sectarian carve-ups, and the Government’s plans to limit the rights of lobbying groups. If democracy is to survive we all have to stand up and fight for what is important – the right to information, the right to participation, and the right to justice,” said James Orr.
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