Northern Ireland political parties to face new transparency rules

Northern Ireland political parties will be required to be more transparent about their financial backers, the government has said, amid a continued impasse over restoring the devolved executive in Stormont.

James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland secretary, told MPs on Monday that there would not automatically be a new election, even though the two main parties, the Democratic Unionist party and Sinn Fein, have failed to agree on a power-sharing deal.

He said he would keep his legal duty to call a new election “under review”, but said it was unlikely that a vote “would of itself resolve the current political impasse”.

Northern Ireland is currently being run by civil servants, who are able to take day-to-day decisions but not set strategic priorities. Mr Brokenshire said the situation could not “continue for much longer”. He said he would give further detail of new transparency rules on political funding in due course; the changes will need to be passed by parliament.

Labour’s Owen Smith, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, said there could be “some legitimate frustration” about the lack of the deal, four months after the Assembly elections.

Earlier on Monday, the DUP leader Arlene Foster accused Sinn Fein of having a “shopping list that keeps getting longer”. Sinn Fein’s negotiator Conor Murphy accused the DUP of a “lack of urgency”.