Four NI parties fined for breaking financial rules

Four political parties in Northern Ireland have been hit with fines totalling £9,300 (€10,500) by the UK's Electoral Commission for failing to comply with party finance rules.

The largest fine - £6,000 (€6,700) - was imposed on Northern Ireland First for failing to deliver four quarterly donations and loans reports, their 2016 statement of accounts and their spending return for the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The party was de-registered by the Commission in November 2017 for not renewing their annual registration status.

The Conservative and Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) has been fined £1,500 (€1,700) for late delivery of 2016 accounts and spending return for the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election, as well as inaccurate spending returns for the 2016 Assembly election.

Of the £9,300, £8,000 (€9,000) remains unpaid after a fine of £1,300 (€1,400) was paid by the Workers Party for late delivery of pre-poll reports for the 2017 UK Parliamentary General Election and spending return for the Northern Ireland Assembly election in 2017.

The Independent Network has been fined £500 (€564) for late delivery of quarterly donation and loans reports.

Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said: "The reporting requirements for political parties are clear, so it is disappointing that these parties have incurred multiple failures to provide accurate or complete information.

"Where the rules are not followed, transparency is lost and voters are deprived of information as to how campaigns have been funded."

A fine of £3,000 (€3,300) has also been issued to Enact, now a de-registered political party in the UK, for failure or late delivery of statement of accounts, quarterly donations and loans reports and weekly donations and loans reports for the 2017 UK Parliamentary General Election.

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