Northern Ireland news

Ian Paisley Crowdfunder page raises just £500 of target £5,000

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley

AN online fundraising campaign to support Ian Paisley's re-election to Westminster has secured just a tenth of its goal.

A crowdfunding page set up by the North Antrim MP, urged people to "defend the union! Support Brexit! Deliver a better kingdom for us all!".

Yesterday, the Support Ian Paisley for MP page, had raised slightly more than £500 of its £5,000 target.

The page does not include any mention of the DUP.

While parties have a central fund to cover the cost of election broadcasts and some literature, candidates fund their own campaigns.

There are rules on what donations registered political parties and registered non-party campaigners can accept. Certain donations must be recorded and reported to the Electoral Commission.

Crowdfunding uses a web-based platform to collect small amounts of money.

Anything given via a web page that is less than £50 is not considered a donation and does not need to be report.

Mr Paisley's salary as an MP is almost £80,000 a year.

August last year saw the first recall petition in Westminster's history following the suspension of Mr Paisley for failing to declare two luxury holidays to Sri Lanka and carrying out paid advocacy on behalf of the country's regime.

The MP avoided contesting a by-election because only 7,099 people – 9.4 per cent of the registered electorate – signed a petition which needed 7,543 signatures to force his resignation.

Up to yesterday, he received support from more than 20 people, ranging from £1 to £50.

Mr Paisley's crowdfunding page has won the support of Brexiteer Arron Banks's Leave.EU organisation, which urged voters to "make sure he gets returned on December 12".

Adam Ramsey, co-editor of Open Democracy UK, said crowdfunding was a recent phenomenon in politics.

It was a way, he told BBC radio, for politicians to "get around a lot of rules" related to fundraising. Only donations over £1,500, he said, were properly regulated.

Some politicians have raised significant amounts so far including Labour's Jess Phillips who has received almost £30,000 in her campaign to be re-elected in Birmingham Yardley.

Mr Ramsay said other efforts, including Mr Paisley's and Kevin McGregor who is standing in Kilmarnock and managed to raise £115, were embarrassing.

"In a sense it is a very positive thing because what it means is that, where it used to be the case that candidates might go cap-in-hand to the very rich, it is easier for them to ask for money, small amounts from each of us," Mr Ramsey said.

"It means not just the rich who can influence our politics."

A DUP spokesperson said: "Any money raised using this forum is done in accordance with all legal and regulatory obligations."

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Friends of Sinn Féin in the US, which was set up in 1995, has now raised for than $15 million for the party.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news