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Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006

Section 12: Extension of categories of permissible donors

57.When the final disapplication period ends, Northern Ireland parties and Northern Ireland regulated donees will no longer be exempt from the prohibition on accepting overseas donations generally. They will, however, still be able to accept donations from Irish citizens and other Irish bodies who can currently donate to Irish parties, in recognition of the special place Ireland occupies in the political life of Northern Ireland. Section 12 inserts new sections 71A to 71C into the 2000 Act in order to achieve this.

58.New section 71A specifies the “Northern Ireland recipients” who will be able to receive these donations (Northern Ireland parties and Northern Ireland regulated donees). New section 71B provides for the two additional categories of permissible donors in respect of Northern Ireland recipients: citizens of Ireland and bodies (companies, trade unions, clubs etc) that are permitted under Irish law to donate to political parties in Ireland. These donors will have to meet prescribed conditions to be eligible to donate.

59.The power to prescribe conditions in relation to Irish donors will have a dual purpose: to allow the donations controls to keep pace with any changes to Irish law, without the need for further primary legislation; and to ensure that criteria can be set that allow the Electoral Commission to check that donations from Irish donors are permissible (see Schedule 1 regarding the Commission’s duty to verify donation reports).

60.New section 71C will prevent Northern Ireland parties from making donations to parties or regulated donees in Great Britain. This will maintain the existing position, and will mean that the section does not affect donations controls in Great Britain.

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