SF urges more openness on party funding

 

SINN FÉIN yesterday called on the Government to introduce new transparency and disclosure rules for political party funding.

The party published its annual financial statements for North and South yesterday, showing it had a combined income of over €2.5 million in 2007.

The party’s Dublin MEP, Mary Lou McDonald, said that in Northern Ireland parties were legally obliged to provide a full annual income and expenditure financial statement to the electoral commission. She said similar legislation should be introduced in the Republic as it would improve transparency.

“Like all organisations, a political party needs an income in order to cover its expenditures,” said Ms McDonald.

“The general public understand that fundraising and donations are part and parcel of generating that income. Where cynicism starts to creep in is when it is perceived that political parties are not open and transparent about their financial affairs.”

The bulk of Sinn Féin’s non-exchequer revenue in 2007 in the Republic came from its elected representatives. Its TDs and MEP each donated €6,000, while its 27 MLAs in the Northern Assembly each donated €5,787.02.

The party said it also raised funds from its annual national draw and its Le Chéile fundraiser dinner which charged €95 per plate. In the North a massive rise in donations of £195,000 (€245,000) was attributed to fundraising activities in the US.

“It is Sinn Féin’s firm belief that all political parties in the State should be required to submit an annual set of accounts to the Standards in Public Office Commission,” said Ms McDonald.

“Sinn Féin is one of the only political parties in this State to produce an annual set of financial statements available to the general public.

‘‘In the absence of legislation I believe all political parties should follow our lead,” added the Dublin MEP.