Sinn Fein received by far the most donations of any political party in Northern Ireland in the first quarter of this year – including £ 800,000 from mysterious donor William Hampton.
Figures from the Election Commission show that six of the main political parties here have accepted a total of £ 1.07million in donations and public funds during this period.
That’s more than double the £ 429,766 accepted in the same period last year.
There is no limit to the size of donations a party can accept here, but donations over £ 7,500 – or smaller donations from the same donor that add up to exceed this threshold – should be reported. .
In the first quarter of 2021, Sinn Fein declared a total of £ 880,295 in donations, including £ 800,000 from the estate of the late Mr Hampton and £ 80,295 from public funds.
Mr Hampton died in Wales in 2018, leaving the party with more than £ 2million, the first installment of the money – £ 1.5million – announced in September 2019.
From January to March of this year, the DUP received the second highest amount of donations at £ 78,115. This was made up entirely of public funds.
The SDLP also received public funds only, bringing in £ 47,958 from January to March. So did the Ulster Unionist Party, which received £ 22,894 in public funds, and the Green Party, which received £ 12,173.
The Alliance Party said it had received £ 29,564 in donations – £ 17,064 from public funds and £ 12,500 from external donations.
Cahir Hughes, head of the Northern Ireland Election Commission, said: ‘We are releasing this data to give voters important information about party funding in Northern Ireland, to build public confidence in our democratic processes .
Legislation introduced in 2018 allows the Election Commission to publish information on donations reported by political parties in Northern Ireland from July 2017. The committee has repeatedly urged the government to come up with legislation allowing it to publish information on donations as of July 2014.
In 2019, concerns were raised over Mr Hampton’s huge donation to Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland.
Strict political funding laws in the Republic prohibit parties from receiving a donation of more than € 2,500, leading some parties to fear that the money could be used to fund activities south of the border.