Cllr Cadogan EnrightSouth Down Councillor Cadogan Enright has angrily hit out at SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie’s U-Turn over transparency regarding donations to local political parties. Cadogan Enright a member of the Electoral Commission, and is also based in Ritchies South Down constituency.

Cllr Enright said: “I have been calling for transparency on donations to political parties for years.

“I was shocked by the SDLP’s opposition to this move given party leader Margaret Richie’s promise during her election campaign in South Down when she vowed to publish all donations to the SDLP if she were elected leader.

“A promise that won’t now be fulfilled in what I can only describe as a cynical political U-Turn. By contrast I published all donations received on the internet as we received them – even small amounts like £2.80.

The Northern Ireland Office has just announced that it will extend legislation which keeps the source of donations to local political parties out of the public domain.

“By allowing donors to political parties to remain anonymous, democracy is being denied to the people of Northern Ireland and we demand the veil of secrecy be lifted as it is compromising democracy and trust.

“Security fears have been used as an excuse to hide unpalatable financial dealings from the public eye.

“In Northern Ireland we have seen a number of examples where the perceived links between donors and political parties have led to the suspicion that decisions are being made that are not in the public’s interest but instead in the interests of those who fund political campaigns.

“While no wrong doing in this regard has been proven, it cannot be disproved due to the shroud of secrecy around party political funding. Therefore the public perception that politics is corrupt.

“The DUP, UUP and SDLP all want to keep the public in the dark and it seems that the NIO has bowed to political pressure rather than listening to what the public actually wants and what democracy demands.

I will continue to pubish all donations on-line, and call uppan the SDLP in South Down to do the same thing and keep Margaret Ritchies election promise from May last year.

“A total of 77% of those that responded to the NIO consultation said they wanted the full register of donations to be in the public domain including every member of the public who did not have a political affiliation, and journalists.

“I believe security fears have been used as an excuse to hide unpalatable financial

“We are 12 years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement which began the normalising process of Northern Ireland politics.

“Since then we have had prisoner releases, paramilitary decommissioning, demilitarisation and reform of the policing system.

“Given all that has passed a decision to open up party political funding to public scrutiny seems such a small step to take for greater normalisation of our political process.

“I will not wait for legislation – I will publish all donations to the Party of over £1000 by the end of this month and over £500 before the election. I  demand that all other parties with nothing to hide do the same and respect the views of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Click on the following links to see Margaret Ritchies astounding u-turn:
Ritchie: “I’ll reveal who the SDLP’s Donors are”.
SDLP leader Ritchie’s u-turn on political donations promise.
Parties fight to keep financial backers secret.

Also take a look at a Northern Ireland Assembly paper which stated that:

“Prior to her election as leader of the SDLP, Margaret Ritchie gave a commitment that if
elected, she would publish details of donations made to the party. The Belfast
Telegraph obtained a copy of an internal party document which stated: “From April 1
2010, the SDLP will voluntarily publish the names of all political donations over the
threshold of £5,000” – Click here for Document.

By Cadogan