Ritchie Slams Lobbying Bill As Working Against Charities and NGO’s
Margaret Ritchie, South Down SDLP MP, has hit out at the impact that the UK Government’s lobbying bill will have on charities and NGOs operating in Northern Ireland.
Speaking during Northern Ireland question time Ms Ritchie said: “This lobbying bill was meant to curb the dominant influence of large lobbyists and businesses but instead it will hit the work of local charities and third sector organisations that form such a vital part of political life in Northern Ireland. There is a particular issue that victims groups will be hit by these measures and will be unable to fulfil their critical role in advocating for victims of the conflict.
“In response to my question the Secretary of State offered only a glib reassurance that the Bill would affect only charities directly supporting candidates in elections. However that seems to be far from the case and there remains fears that the Bill will catch a whole range of practices that are vital to the work of the third sector.
“I have real concerns that this Bill will seriously impact the work all these organisations do representing victims and it could effectively gag civil society and the voluntary sector in the run up to elections. On top of this the new measures will bring a level of administrative and financial burden that these organisations will find very difficult to meet.
“Only this Conservative led government would have the audacity to turn a Bill that was meant to blunt the power of large lobbyists into one that punishes civil society for simply doing their job,” added Ms Ritchie.