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Call for more transparency over donations to political parties in Northern Ireland

22 November 2011 Last updated at 11:32 GMT

By Mark Devenport

BBC NI Political Editor

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A government appointed watchdog has called for more transparency over donations to political parties in Northern Ireland.

The report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life wants the executive to introduce a timetable for making political donations public.

At present the identity of party donors in NI remain secret.

Parties elsewhere in the UK must report the identity of all party donations over £7,500.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report covers all the UK – its main recommendation is for a cap on individual donations of £10,000.

In relation to Northern Ireland, it wants the government to commit to a timetable to introduce the same transparency as elsewhere.

It wants more details published by 2015, including the extent to which party donations come from Irish citizens living outside the UK.

It also recommends that policy development grants which are linked to a party’s representation at Westminster should be made available to parties with significant representation at Stormont.

At present, the DUP and the SDLP each get more than £150,000 of these grants.

Sinn Fein do not receive the cash because they do not take their seats in the House of Commons, whilst the Ulster Unionists lost their grant when they slipped below the threshold of having two MPs

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