General Election

Tories pledge transparency over political donations

Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said there will be more openness surrounding political donations. Picture by Mal McCann
David Young, Press Association

A returning Conservative government would move "quickly" to provide greater transparency around political donations in the north.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire said he felt disclosure around who was supporting parties in the region would help reinject confidence into the political system.

"I firmly believe it is in Northern Ireland's interests to see that that is taken forward quickly," he said.

"As an incoming Conservative government, if we are re-elected, I do see that as important in re-injecting a sense of confidence in our political system here in Northern Ireland."

Donations have long been secret to ensure the security of donors. Advocates of more transparency insist such factors are no longer significant enough in the post-Troubles north to prevent publication of the information.

Action on political donations is among a series of policy commitments outlined in the Conservatives' 34-page manifesto for Northern Ireland.

The Tories also pledge to help deliver tailored "city deals" to Northern Ireland.

The economic stimulus agreements, already signed in places likes Manchester and Glasgow, give cities greater powers to drive investment and regeneration.

Under the terms of Greater Manchester's city deal the local authorities can retain a proportion of the enhanced business tax take brought in as a result of boosted productivity.

In terms of the Brexit negotiations, the Conservatives pledge to "maintain as frictionless a border as possible for people, goods and services".

The party also reaffirms its support for the devolution of corporation tax powers to the Stormont Executive, but only if it is on a firm financial footing.

It said its pledge to spend a minimum of £8 billion in real terms on the NHS in England over the next five years would have a knock-on boost to Northern Ireland, as health spend allocations to the devolved regions would be increased accordingly.

In respect of the thorny issue of legacy, the manifesto states:

"We recognise concerns that, taken overall, investigations into the past have become disproportionately focused on the security forces rather than republican and loyalist terrorists."

The party said there was a need to provide new structures for addressing the issues and restated its commitment to a series of stalled mechanisms outlined in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

The manifesto made clear the party does not support the introduction of any amnesty or immunity from prosecution.

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General Election