Party Funding…Alliance Party

Over on Slugger O’Toole, Mick Fealty produces an excellent post on Party Funding and speculates as to why SDLP are a bit reluctant to have donors based in the Republic of Ireland named publicly. He speculates that it does not want a list of “wealthy Dublin donors” in the public domain.
He further sprculates that Sinn Fein might have a prolem with the “elastic industrial wages” of their Elected politicians.
And he speculates that DUP dont want their property developer friends named.

Alas Mick makes no speculation about Alliance Party funding. They now publish donations. But have I ever mentioned Alliance Party got £98,000 from A Rowntree trust between 2007-2011?
It has been described as “chocolate money…innocent money….Quaker money” by….er Sluggers good friend Quintin Oliver.

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63 Responses to Party Funding…Alliance Party

  1. Mick Fealty says:


    Is the ‘Eye’ experiencing outages? I’ve tried a few times recently to get on, and it’s not been available. Anyhoo, here’s a precis of the argument on Slugger:

    – “£98,000 from A Rowntree trust between 2007-2011?” = Real money, properly declared and reported.

    – Any statement of accounts given to the Electoral Commission by any NI party = Makey uppy money.

  2. Mick says:

    No change from the last time you asked. But do keep asking…

  3. factual says:

    “But have I ever mentioned Alliance Party got £98,000 from A Rowntree trust between 2007-2011?”

    FJH is there a problem with this? Are you saying its not kosher?

    • Its CHOCOLATE money.
      I dont know whether Chocolate is kosher or not.

      • factual says:

        But do you have any reason to claim its not kosher – i.e. that it is not entirely legitimate? You have now mentioned it a couple of times in a cryptic and suggestive manner without coming clean on what you are getting at, exactly.

      • I dont think I have ever been crytic or suggestive.
        I have been entirely up front.
        The Rowntree Reform Trust gave £98,000 over a period of four yrs to 2011.
        The Rowntree website says that the specific purpose was to get extra seats in Assembly election. And they did….one extra seat which got them that extra Executive seat and allowed the obnoxious Ford to strut around.
        I have been entirely open about that.
        If you want “crytic” you might want to take a look at Slugger today. The thread on party funding contains a reference to “elastic industrial wages” of Sinn Fein.
        Maybe you want to ask Slugger what that means.

      • factual says:

        But FJH was that party donation illegitimate in some way?

      • That was not the point …and you know it.

      • factual says:

        I am not sure what the point is, in that case.

  4. kalista63 says:

    Great to see Mick, yet again, breaking his own famous rule and man playing Martin Mc Guinness over his own personal account. We are far, far from a post conflict situation and not naming donors is still legitimate for obvious reasons. Oddly, one of the few parties that don’t have this issue is Alliance.

  5. Mick Fealty says:


    All the returns to the EC from all the political parties (yes, Alliance too) are dodgy as hell. The Martin case is a perfect illustration of that. That account purported to show that all Martin got was his allowance from the party. Most people have bills like rent, electric, gas, heating oil, telephone or broadband. What that link (to, in the Republic where people are not subjected to communal lynching for asking questions about what public reps do with our money shows what’s missing from any convincing account.

    You call that man playing, fine. For me, it is merely evidence that politicians in NI are some of the least accountable on these islands.

    • Then surely theres a responsibility on the Media to highlight this.
      what the Media do is have every MLA on their smart-phones and Facebook.
      For example if I went on to your Facebook page, how many poliicians would I count.
      The Media is contributing to the cosy village mentality….as MLAs, staffers, wannabee politicians and journos attend Stormont on a Saturday night to watch episodes of the WEST WING.
      During the week there will be all that Police Games crap and An Feile to get even closer.
      At least, Alison Morris at the Amnesty event should be interesting.
      Holding the politicians to account is something that the Media have m

      • Mick Fealty says:


        The media generally don’t help governments, but in Northern Ireland, in my experience, the reporting both inside and outside government leaves a lot to be desired.

        The NI Water story contained cases in which supposedly independent outputs were fiddled with to create politically useful outcomes.

        I am not convinced we are any the wiser about the award of contracts to private companies, or the management of the value of those contracts with private companies.

        What people do not account for is that during the peace process era we were swamped with journalists from Britain and the Republic and in times of crisis further afield.

        Now the political staff in most media outlets is down to one, or if they are lucky two hapless souls who carry own regardless.

        The BBC which does have some outstandingly good people, generally defaults in its big ticket output to Nolan’s bombast or its traditional, SF say this, DUP say that, etc, etc…

        I don’t think it is cosy. In fact most of the game control (access to ministers being the main currency) sits with government rather than with journalism.

        I like McGuinness (God help me), but I don’t see why he or any other minister should be given a bye ball from proper accounting for what they receive from the public purse.

        You have to wonder at what accountability is possible when his party takes his whole wage and then apparently pays him back a small stipend.

        This is a routine which is expressly outlawed and policed by SIPO in the Republic. This does have political consequences.

        Take the IN’s piece on employment of relatives by MLAs etc yesterday, the independent research for that on most parties is a matter of checking the public record.

        For SF whom they employ and in what capacity is an off private sector record, even though it is funding from the same source.

        Result is that everyone else looks like they are creaming it for their rellies (including the SDLP)…

        For me, we need to bring more independent analysis to bear on the situation. If that cannot be sourced inside the traditional media, it’s up to non traditional media to help take the strain.

      • Some fair points there Mick.
        Wales and Scotland are small ponds. Is the Media there different.
        My perception is that in the Republic journos are more anti-politician.
        maybe politicians distinguish between the lobby joaurnalists and the investigative ones.
        To make a very serious point, I dont like the Twitter feeds and the West Wing type cosiness.
        It says it all when the View have a panel (Wilford, Shirlow, Deirdre and a couple of others) to actually make an award to the MLA who tweets the most.
        And. Am sick to the back teeth of political groupies boasting that they are following so many politicians, journos,even to international level.
        its really like collecting autographs.
        “I was re-tweeted by (insert name of politician)”

        having given you LetsGetAlongerist, Overclass, Comma People….the most boring people are the MetroTextuals. I fear that I am one.

      • factual says:

        ” If that cannot be sourced inside the traditional media, it’s up to non traditional media to help take the strain.”

        That is where websites like Slugger come in, Mick, you are suggesting.

        But does Slugger expose and investigate the NI politicians in the way that it could? When does/has Slugger caused any discomfort to a politician?

    • kalista63 says:

      Fair play Mick. But let’s look at issues of financing in GB, the merky world of power mad trade unionists trying to call the shots for Labour, dodgy tax dodgers financing the Tories. Hell, even the Church of England makes morally contradictory financial measures.

      All our direct debits come out of my partners account and my leccy and gas are PAYG, it all makes keeping a tab on the family finances easier.

      This last couple of years (most notably, since December) we’ve seen the unionist rent-a-mob at work and how they are able to turn them on and off (Ardoyne being a prime example) and goodness knows what would happen to any firm that financed SF or the SDLP, it’s a complete non starter. At the very least, it could cost firms valuable business

      • Mick Fealty says:


        How can you compare GB with NI unfavourably when we allow pols to fill in their own unaudited returns on a huge (and I mean enormous) block grant from the state? That’s not to mention the thick covering for anonymous donors that means we know about union power and Ashcroft. As for Robo he has been at the centre of two major BBC investigations in three years. It’s not for the want of trying.

  6. factual says:

    Mick, very interesting coverage of McGill summer school on your website. Did you catch the discussion about the removal of comulsory history at junior cert level?

    • factual says:

      Ferriter’s lecture very interesting, too.

      • factual says:

        We in the 26 counties have much to be concerned about in terms of party funding issues; an issue (among others) that Ferriter refers to as part of the “failure of the Republic” in his lecture today.

      • Mick says:

        Ferriter is a good public advocate for reform, but I missed that one. Will look it out later.

        Back to your question re Slugger, I think we do well to inform. Investigation is a more daunting prospect. The NI Water story cost 80+ unpaid man hours, just to unearth the limited amount we did.

        And it earned us the enmity of some fairly well connected members of what FJH likes to call the over class. Wealthy folk with deep pockets, and ‘assets’ to protect.

        I’ve no real appetite to go looking for more, but if a similarly high opportunity presented itself again, I’d find it hard to justify a refusal…

      • factual says:

        Ferriter’s podcast is up; i’d really recommend listening to it; it is great. Thanks for pointing me to the Summer School site.

      • factual says:


        Have you ever thought of running a Slugger Summer School, to talk about and reflect on problems in NI politics/society (n the way McGill does for the26 counties) ? You could invite people such as academics and other public intellectuals. Seems to be a gap in the market.

  7. kalista63 says:

    I think this IMHO illustrated part of the problem with mainstream journos and politicians. NO journalist worth their salt would have indulged Robinson’s theatrics.

    Frankly, I’d like to know more about the connection between certain politicians (possibly the whole party(s) ) and certain shadowy groups. For example, why is it considered normal for all the unionist parties to have their noses up the arses of the UVF, as we saw with the various groups formed after the BCC flegs vote?

    We’re far from the days of normall politics and real political journalism.

  8. Mick says:

    Yep… (All ideas excepted gratefully… At editor@slugger… Etc..)

  9. @Factual,

    The obvious point that FJH is making is that the Alliance Party receives a hefty financial subvention from a centrist political foundation in the UK that also funds a wide number of other political, activist, community and media groupings in Britain and Ireland, including the AP’s British sister-party in the form of the Lib-Dems (current coalition partners in the British government with the Tories).

    The question is why is this support taking place and it is one that has long failed to receive an adequate answer. Indeed the Alliance Party tend to go all Scientologist when quizzed about their funding which simply adds to the circulating conspiracy theories.

    On the article on SO’T it is well made and timely (though the AP omission should be noted). Nationally the phenomenon of “Brown Bag Patronage” (©mé fein!) has destroyed Irish politics. The north-east of the country seems little different and the SDLP are surprisingly coy on some of their own funding if I might risk incurring FJH’s wrath 😉

    • Id have to agree with Seamas.
      Right on the money (sic). And I agree about SDLP coyness. Although they do have a surpisingly high amount of Nights At The Races.
      In the case of SDLP, I think the coyness about donations is matched by a coyness about membership.

  10. Mick Fealty says:

    Seamus, you can make that criticism against all parties in the Assembly, bar, I think, the single member of the Green Party. I don’t think it is entirely fair to single out the SDLP in that regard.

    Take SF’s brown bag outing of FF’s ‘dog without a collar’ Sean Gallagher and the common link between the two parties was a convicted fuel smuggler, tax dodger and SF constituency office landlord.

    We simply are not good at this transparency stuff. That’s why the Seanad Abolition Referendum could be good in the sense that the No camp (FF, Inds, and some stragglers from Labour and FG), if it raises a platform for further and far reaching reform.

    • Mick, I agree, though I thought the SDLP might be a little more forthright on the issue of political donations given their recent attempts to put clear blue between themselves and some of the other inhabitants of the regional assembly. Nationally and locally all Irish political parties are more than a little bit cagey about funding, and funding is where all the trouble begins. As we have seen.

      Personally I believe Seanad reform as a counter to abolition is a red herring (and a stinking one too, much like the institution itself). Reform needs to begin with local government. We’ve seen the recent tinkering of FG/Lab but it is still too little. We need a complete overall of where politics begins, in local communities and local legislatures.

      Scrap local councils, replace them with four or five regional assemblies, real ones with real powers, directly elected by PR on a regular basis. And make Dáil Éireann a legislature elected through a party-list system. Break the connection with parish-pump politics and leave the debates to pot-holes in Cavan to regional/provincial Dálaí with real powers to do something about them while the National Assembly deals with national business (with more emphasis on cross-party committees, etc. with again real powers of inquiry and administration).

      And tightly legislate “lobbying” of all types.

      Just a few thoughts!

      • factual says:

        I’d be cautious about regional governments with real powers, the levels of corruption could soar.

        Our small state media is bad enough at national level at holding politicians to account, local level would be less good at this, so that corruption could soar.

        I think it would be better to have Dáil elected by a party list system too. There are real problems of parish pump politics.

        The Bertie Ahern and highly corrupt type of politics – that has been so bad for the state – there is absolutely nothing in FG’s proposals that prevent it happening again. Other than ceding more regulatory powers up to the EU (which is not a good solution) such as is happening in banking.

  11. factual says:


    “The obvious point that FJH is making is that the Alliance Party receives a hefty financial subvention from a centrist political foundation in the UK that also funds a wide number of other political, activist, community and media groupings in Britain and Ireland, including the AP’s British sister-party in the form of the Lib-Dems (current coalition partners in the British government with the Tories). The question is why is this support taking place and it is one that has long failed to receive an adequate answer.”

    I still don’t see the issue or controversy here (and hence, I don’t really the “point” that FJH is making). Parties do need to be funded and it is those who support a party’s objectives that fund therm. Why does anyone financially support a political party? Presumably they agree with Alliance’s position.

  12. Mick Fealty says:

    A rigorously policed register would be a beginning. On regional assemblies, they tried that in England and it died a death because they had not emotional resonance with the people.

    Beefing up the county council systems and pushing down powers over infrastructure (education, roads, investment and, erm, planning) would cover that.

    In Denmark, the commune has serious powers and local politicians are held in as high esteem as national pols.

    The national parliament should be freed to look after the national interest. In those conditions you can safely dispatch the upper house. “Vote pot hole, you will probably get economic black hole” says Mick McDowell in MagGill tonight.

    • factual says:


      Pushing too much power to council level – why are councils assumed to be less corrupt? There are often much, much worse “monopolies” of power at local level than at national, and the media at local level is too fluffy/naive to investigate. Do they take better decisions – again this is questionable?

      Keep the powers central and regulate/monitor them properly.

      • Corruption would be handled by proper legislation, as Mick indicates, such as a register of members’ interests and tighter restrictions on individual/party donations with everything above €100 sourced by named individual or organisation and lower caps. Let the parties fund themselves through party fees.

        If necessary research public funding based upon representation or vote percentages (though that naturally favours established parties).

        Politics must be devolved to the lowest practical level. Of the people, for the people and all that. In Ireland, given economies of scale, I’d suggest that lies at the regional/provincial level. County councils, town and city councils simply don’t have the resources to do the job. They need to be upscaled and the Dept. of E,C&LG, etc. stripped of their powers. The Swiss cantons are the model to follow, albeit without the federalism. And let’s throw in some “direct democracy” while we’re at it. Some of the Danish municipalities were amalgamated because of issues with sustainability and several regional councils created so I’d favour the mid-tier solution without any lower tier.

        Devolve, devolve, devolve and empower the people!

      • factual says:


        Swiss? Sorry its obvious you are a man. The Swiss model was so reactionary, that it didn’t give votes to women until the 1990s in some localities. That localist/direct democracy model is often associated with very parochial and not liberal government.

  13. factual says:

    Meehole’s speech –

    *says FG have done absolutely nothing to reform state
    *looking to Finland for inspiration
    *govt should have less control not more
    *problems of ministers not answering questions
    *Dáil powerless; lamentable quality of Dáil debates
    *Dáil spent more time debating greyhound racing than finance, in the years up to the financial crisis.
    *System of government in 26 counties well and truly broken.
    * FF will argue: vote no and demand real reform

    • The Finns view Finland first and foremost as a community of communities. FF, FG, Lab, etc, view Ireland first and foremost as a business. Being inspired by the Finns means copying the Finns. FF have no intentions of going down that road. Its “Ireland Inc.” all the way the way to this nation’s political and socio-economic grave. 😦

  14. Mick Fealty says:

    Culture is the key. We have strong ingroup/outgroup instincts. The Nordic countries all have a much deeply developed communitarian sense of who they are and why it is okay to share the public space. Our instincts, you might say, veer more towards the Sicilian than the Scanian.

    [Note for FjH: Definite problems accessing the site]

    • factual says:


      “We have strong ingroup/outgroup instincts. ”

      Could you elaborate on this? Not sure what you mean?

      • Mick Fealty says:


        An example par excellence: Irish (us) in; British (them) out. I’ve a wonderful set of binaries compiled by a young Mairtin O’Muilleoir for Sinn Fein in about 1987, I think. We’re great, they’re crap just about sums it up.

        It comes back to the fact that we are missing this sense of city as ‘oeuvre’, a space from which an informal, small ‘r’ republican space can arise.

    • Thanks Mick.
      Might be volume of traffic.
      As you can see a lot of comments tonight. And the Viewing figures have been very high this month.
      This is a “free” site.
      Maybe Im reaching some kinda limit.

    • I agree wholeheartedly, Mick.

      However I would point out that Ireland’s political and social culture is a legacy of British colonial rule and the schism of British-imposed partition.

      We simply adapted the pre-existing British political and legal structures to independence with the added twist of advanced Home Rule thrown in.

      The accelerated Irish Revolution came to a halt in 1923 and everything else since has been a slow, halting, grinding progression towards where we should be. 80 years to secularise our republic and we’re still only 75% of the way there.

      Without the Ulster Protestant component of our nation we were doomed from the start, even if it had meant civil war to retain that population. In the long run we would have emerged a better people from it rather than the dysfunctional twins that we became.

      All that said in truth we have no one to blame but ourselves. The British may have set us on the road of indentured servitude to the EU-ECB-IMF by their actions 80 years ago, or 800 years ago, but we’ve had decades to leave that road and find another path of our own. Like some African-Americans bewailing the condition of their communities due to events some two or three hundred years earlier sooner or later one must face up to one’s own complicity in maintaining the bars of one’s own prison.

      • GS says:

        Warring with the Ulster Protestants (civil war) is not a good idea …. it would have led to an even more entrenched partition … but consulting with them to find something (an agreed Ireland ) that they had a say (and input) in would have been a good idea. But we screwed up.

      • Mick Fealty says:

        What GS said.

        Undoubtedly the Scandinavians now have a well established sense of their own autonomy, which helps. They also (despite some old colonial relationships of their own) are more than happy to delve into a common larder of shared values. To coin a phrase they’ve achieved a modicum of fusion over their more fissive histories.

        Staying neutral and selling arms to everyone in the post war era ushered in a sublime prosperity for the Swedes undoubtedly helped. But like the Norwegian oil bonanza they undoubtedly knew how to socially invest in future generations.

        Ireland needs to raise its expectations of itself (and others) not keep singing that old refrain, “Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help, help, I’m being repressed…”

  15. @GS,

    I may note I said “Without the Ulster Protestant component of our nation we were doomed from the start, even if it had meant civil war to retain that population”. The preferred option of course would have been without that terrible scenario. I do not believe that partition was inevitable. It was an artificial, man-made act of anti-democracy. An All-Ireland state with regional “home rule” for the north-east was on offer from Irish Republicans in 1920. 1921. 1922. 1923. Etc. An agreed Ireland was there for the taking.

    But yes, we all screwed up. And still are.


    All true (especially the rarely discussed basis of some of the Scandinavian nations’ communal prosperity and sense of civic responsibility). In relation to the “Help, help…” bit, yes point taken 😉 But have you read Tana French’s opinion piece in the New York Times?

    How can we change what the vast majority have no hand or stake in? To borrow FJH’s term for our betters, the “overlords” hold the whip hand. Sinn Féin are popular in part because they are the anti-establishment party but even their growth is restricted and not just due to past baggage.

    Ireland is a democracy – but quite a selective one.

    • Mick Fealty says:

      We need change, badly. Not just in Ireland but across the democratic world. There’s something in Ruarai’s piece from last week on Slugger about the imperviousness of elites in the democratic west that’s screwing up a system in which people are becoming accustomed to the idea that they have choice.

      Any future change needs to be cognaisant of those changing macro conditions.

      But, and here’s the paradox, whilst people certainly want change, they also want a sense that the public goods they have accrued under the old system (and in which they have already heavily invested) will not be washed away in any storming of the Winter Palace. Enter the Tory-Whig Eamonn De Búrca…

      For me this is the thing that SF must deal with in its long term run in with FF… Can actually they be trusted to run the country? Or will they remain an outsiderly team driven by an unseen (and unaccountable) leadership group of individuals whose lives take place outside the public realm in perpetuity?

      • A bit unfair on politicians.
        They are actually accountable to the electorate.
        That the Electorate is ” in the dark” is a different story.
        In sage (honestly no pun intended) to NI21…Ian Parsley ( businessman, linguist politician and currently a member of the Alliance Party) remarked that the real currency of politics is not votes…it is influence.
        Which begs the question, why is lobbying…such a growth industry.
        Circa 1968-1970 A levels Politics classes made no mention of lobbyists.
        as I recall it merely state that before legislation is passed, a Government department will often consult pressure groups such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (it was the only pressure group we ever mentioned).
        Seems to make perfect sense.
        fascinating as it is….how does Martin McGuinness pay his Electricity Bill…its not as big a deal as the access that lobbyists have to politicians and their staffers.
        Who pays them?
        How much?

      • Mick Fealty says:

        What’s unfair on politicians?

        As for lobbyists, in the US where they are perhaps most prominent, they were wrapped into the First Amendment under the protection of the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

        Ban lobbyists and you ban the right of people to talk to government, which is plainly absurd. Lobbyists also provide resources to raise matters of public concern that would not otherwise happen.

        Professional lobbyists who work in the open don’t worry me in the slightest. They are part of the cut and thrust of the public square. It is when they get into the actual machinery of power that it is most worrying (

        My experience of jobbing politicians is that they have not the time nor the resources to get into the kind of policy detail they need in order to make good decisions. The best lobbyists do this very well.

        My own view is that openness and transparency in the lobby is the way to go. At its best it provides debate that is genuinely independent of government largesse, if not political manipulation.

        Take our relationship with Stratagem for instance. Without them it is inconceivable that we would have been able to run the Slugger Awards three years in a row. That was a genuinely open process (bar the judging at the very end, which was subject to Chatham House rules so that people could be blunt as necessary).

        In my view with came up with robust decisions about merit in the political world. Compare it with the View’s ‘publicly funded’ poor cousin at the end of this viewing season. Quality processes cost money to develop and deliver.

        I’d far rather take the money and support from a reputable lobby company to get good work done, than take it from the state with all manner of conditions attached.

        Ask yourself why after two or three years the £80 million social fund has not been spent by OFMdFM?

  16. kalista63 says:


    I don’t think its to chance that the parties with the most financial skeletons are als the most successful, be it here, down south or across the water.The politics of sincerity is giving way to a professional political class. Due to circumstances and for better or for worse, not so much here (yet) but in the fund raising arena, they’ve little to learn.

    Sinn Fein are now firmly on an all Ireland arena and (mostly thanks to their past but also to their political naivety) are fighting a tough battle against a corrupt and politically invested media that doesn’t want the FF/FG carve up/pantomime disturbed. This takes great effort and thus a lot of money.

    The real issues about Robo, the ones we are all aware of that, are subject to the judicial 3 Fight Club rules stick in much of the electorate’s craw.The BBC revelations, especially Frazer, were well known many years ago in his burb and beyond. Why did it take journos so long to push that button?

    The BBC reports on Robo and the recent one on Mc Causland, seemed rushed and dashed off and left too much wriggle room. Can’t deny that I don’t appreciate the effort but a little more time and effort would have made the reports firmer.

    I’m a massive fan (bordering on weird crush) of Fionnuala O Connor and cannot understand why the Beeb or UTV don’t make more of her services and those like her. I also find it frustration that the Beeb often lean on the work of the likes of The Detail for real exposure. Jaysus on a bucket, we pay enough in license fees for them to hire journalists rather than reporters.

    Sorry for meandering. I tend to do that 🙂

  17. @Factual,

    I’ll give you this much. At least your consistently inconsistent 🙂

  18. @ Mick,

    I couldn’t help but notice your post yesterday on Am Ghobsmacht’s 10 things that PULs are doing to undermine the Union. It looks a little like my own post a day before on the exact same post strangely enough, which of course I wouldn’t have drawn your attention to seeing as you follow my own blog now.

    I’m flattered btw 🙂

  19. anewdawn says:

    I see that John Larid, who TEXT REMOVED AS IT MIGHT BE A BIT DODGY is having his book advertised on Slugger, tut tut tut Mick.

  20. anewdawn says:

    Understood. What I meant to say was, he allegedly admitted to taking a bribe.

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