Wednesday 13 December 2017

DUP under renewed pressure to name their pro-Brexit paymasters

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP

Noel McAdam

The DUP is coming under renewed pressure to reveal the names of its biggest paymasters after disclosing a £425,000 donation which bankrolled its pro-Brexit campaign.

Sinn Féin said the party still faced serious issues over transparency, amid growing questions over the little-known group which gifted the cash.

Yesterday it was revealed how the Constitutional Research Council (CRC), a group of pro-union business people led by a Conservative party member, had made the £425,622 donation.

Alliance called on the DUP - and all other parties - to voluntarily identify their donors so voters can judge whether they have been influenced.

But the DUP threw the gauntlet down to Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP following their disclosure of the CRC's money.

Yesterday it was reported the CRC was preparing to invest even more into politics, this time with opponents to Scottish nationalism, in the event of Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling a second independence referendum.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who was the DUP's national campaign director for Brexit, queried how Sinn Féin had spent more than $12m raised by the US-based Friends of Sinn Féin group.

"The public has not a clue what Sinn Féin does with it," he said.

Sinn Féin said in response: "Any money raised in the USA by Friends of Sinn Féin is registered with the US Justice Department.

"Accounts are produced twice a year and all donations over $50 are published. The names of donors to Friends of Sinn Féin have been widely published in US and Irish media."

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy turned the heat back on the DUP, saying it was still not clear who belonged to the CRC and what they got in return. He added: "Instead we have the name of a secretive body, no list of members and donors. "It now appears that the DUP spent at least £370,000 on newspaper advertisements and campaign materials in Britain where they don't stand for election.

"This raises serious questions about transparency."

Sir Jeffrey, meanwhile, also raised questions of the SDLP and UUP's use of donors.

Last night, as claims by multi-millionaire pro-Brexit banker Arron Banks that the DUP demanded money to support him also resurfaced, Alliance leader Naomi Long said it raised serious questions. "Would the DUP have campaigned as vigorously for Brexit had they not received a large donation to do so?" she asked.

Irish Independent

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