During the 2016 European referendum, the DUP received £435,000 in a secret donation which was then spent on Brexit campaigning across the UK. The Conservatives have now ditched plans to make this donation public, ignoring the advice of the official regulator.
Funnelling money for campaigning outside Northern Ireland via a Northern Irish party such as the DUP exploited a loophole that exists just for the province.Due to its bloody history of polarised politics, the rules introduced across the rest of the UK in 2000 to make the source of large donations public were not immediately introduced for Northern Ireland.
The plan, however, was subsequently to remove this restriction for all donations from 2014 onward. This would have meant the source of the 2016 DUP referendum cash bonanza becoming public.
Except the Conservatives subsequently changed course, ignored the Electoral Commission’s advice, and decide to vote through this week only making public donations that took place subsequently.
The source of a controversial donation to the Democratic Unionists during the Brexit campaign will remain secret, despite a vote to extend transparency rules to Northern Ireland.
The rules will only apply to donations made after July 2017, so anything relating to the Brexit referendum remains under wraps. And that includes a donation of more than £400,000 to the DUP which was spent on pro-Brexit adverts, including one in the London- based Metro newspaper which doesn’t even come out in Northern Ireland.
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