Northern Ireland news

Private donors make Alliance top beneficiary

Naomi Long's Alliance Party received £82,500 of funds from private donors. Picture by Mark Marlow

THE Alliance Party received £82,500 of funds from private donors in the last three months of 2019.

When coupled with £22,500 of public funds, the party emerges as the largest regional recipient of donations in the final quarter of last year.

The lion's share of Alliance donations came from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, a regular benefactor, which gave the party £57,500 between October and December.

The party received £15,000 from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Matthew Oakeshott and £10,000 from Gilbert Nesbitt.

Alliance was granted £22,500 of public funds, bringing its total donations for the quarter to £105,000.

The only other regional party to receive a private donation that met the threshold for reporting was the SDLP, which received £2,000 from Creagh Concrete on top of £25,400 of public funds.

Both Sinn Féin and the DUP received £76,700 from public funds over the three-month period.

The Ulster Unionists were granted £23,561 from the public purse, while the Green Party received £10,400, the TUV £6,900 and People Before Profit £4,500.

Total donations in the quarter amounted to £331,200 – more than £538,000 less than the previous quarter, which included a £500,000 from Billy Hampton, the man believed to be Northern Ireland's biggest ever political donor, who gifted Sinn Féin £2 million in all.

In 2019 total donations were £3.35 million compared to £1.46 in 2018.

Regional head of the Electoral Commission Cahir Hughes said: "This is only the second full year we have been able to publish information on donations to parties in Northern Ireland, and the first time we have been able to give full information covering a UK Parliamentary general election campaign.

"Publishing this data allows voters to see clearly how parties in Northern Ireland are funded, enhancing public confidence and trust in our democratic process.”

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