image: maselkoo99, Getty images
Theresa May’s key allies, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), received an unprecedented £435,000 to campaign for Brexit. That’s far more than they’ve ever spent on an election campaign in their history – and they spent almost none of it in Northern Ireland. But, because of outdated secrecy laws, we aren’t allowed to know who gave it to them.
Some people, however, do know. If you have been burdened with this secret – or know anything about it – we are appealing to you, today, to tell us. You can do so entirely anonymously, or speak to us off the record. More details here.
We are launching this appeal today because Theresa May's government has just confirmed what we long feared: that it will not honour all the provisions of a law passed in 2014, which paved the way for transparency of political donations in Northern Ireland.
Instead – despite urging from across the political divide – May’s government is going to pass a law which offers a charade of transparency. Political donors in Northern Ireland will no longer be allowed anonymity – but there’s a catch: the new law is only effective from 1st July 2017.
This means that the DUP (who just happen to have signed a £1bn deal this year to prop up May’s Conservative government) won’t have to disclose who gave them that extraordinary £435,000 to campaign for Brexit – funding lavish adverts during the last days of the knife-edge European referendum.
Democracy depends on transparency. Whistleblowers throughout the ages have understood that secrecy breeds corruption. The EU referendum was one of the biggest decisions the United Kingdom has made in a generation, and we all have a right to know who paid for all the campaigns on each side.
Now that the government has refused to provide citizens with these basic facts, it's up to us to step in.
openDemocracy has been leading the way on this story from the start of the year – see our full dark money investigation here.
If you know anything about the DUP’s mystery donation, or have important information related to either side EU referendum campaign, click here to confidentially pass on what you know – and provide us with any evidence you can to verify the information.
You can send it entirely anonymously, or you can speak with us off the record and we will safeguard any confidentiality you request.
Please also spread the word – it may be that you know someone else who might be able to help.
Mary Fitzgerald, Adam Ramsay and the openDemocracy team