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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Commission reminds charities to stay within the law in the run up to the Assembly Election

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has reminded charities not to break charity law in advance of the forthcoming Northern Ireland Assembly Election.

In re-circulating its political activity and campaigning guidance for charities, the Commission stated that charities should “do nothing that undermines their independence and neutrality when it comes to party politics”.

With an election now set to take place on 2 March, the rapid nature of the campaign will leave little time for reflection, meaning that charities should consult the guidance as soon as possible, particularly if they engage politically. Charities should avoid:

  • Supporting or opposing a political party or politician, verbally or financially
  • Endorsing a political party based on one policy position
  • Participating in or running events to which all candidates or parties have not been invited
  • Sharing party political social media posts using official charity social media channels, or too closely echoing the language or slogans employed by political parties
  • Hiring out venues to political parties at a non-commercial rate
  • Allowing charity trustees, staff or members who may also be elected representatives or party activists access to charity assets for non-charity related business.

Chief Charity Commissioner Tom McGrath said: “Charities are forbidden from aligning with any political party or attacking another.

“While many charities engage politicians to communicate their views on policy if they feel it can advance their charitable purpose, there are clear lines that should not be crossed.

“The public rightly perceive the charity sector as independent and issue-focused and charities should do nothing that undermines their independence and neutrality when it comes to party politics.”

Charities that are in doubt or are in need of further guidance should contact the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland on 028 3832 0220.