DUP rejects Sinn Fein criticism of Brexit funding

Party received £425,000 to support Leave side in British EU referendum

The DUP has dismissed a call by Sinn Féin to disclose more information about a large donation it received to support the Leave side in last June's British referendum on the European Union.

The party received £425,000 from an organisation called the Constitutional Research Council. The organisation has been described as a little-known British based group of pro-union business figures.

A substantial portion of the money was used to buy a four-page supplement in the Metro freesheet in London and other British cities urging people to vote Leave.

"Most of the money, £282,000, was spent in London where the DUP have no presence, on a pro-Brexit wrap-around in the Metro freesheet," said former Sinn Féin finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.


“Putting this in context that was more than three times the amount spent by the DUP in last May’s Assembly election,” he added.

“The Constitutional Research Council has no legal status, publishes no membership list, has no public presence and has failed to make public where it got the money,” said Mr Ó Muilleoir.

He said there were also allegations of Saudi Arabian involvement in the funding.

Mr Ó Muilleoir added: “What we do know is that the DUP were fully aware of the disaster Brexit will be to our people, our economy and our public services. The DUP took the money for Brexit and we are all paying the price. Voters have a right to know from the DUP where the actual source of the donation is.”

A DUP spokesman said the party “voluntarily published details of the donor who helped fund the DUP’s participation in the European referendum campaign”.

"This voluntary step was beyond the details published by the Electoral Commission and is one that has not been repeated by any of the other major political parties in Northern Ireland, " he added.

Everything written in the last days about this issue is a reheat of old news. As to Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir as long as his party benefits from millions of foreign money their sniping deserves nothing but derision,” he said.

In Northern Ireland political donations are not publicised in order not to identify donors. This is a legacy of the Troubles when such publicity could have security implications for donors.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times