Family history behind lawyer’s £45,000 donation to Alliance Party

A Northern Ireland lawyer has revealed the close family link behind his decision to donate £45,000 to the Alliance Party.

n January, Gilbert Nesbitt gave £25,000 to the cross-community party.

It followed two previous donations of £10,000 from Mr Nesbitt in 2019 and 2020.

Mr Nesbitt, a senior partner in the Wilson Nesbitt law firm which has offices in Belfast and Bangor, said the Alliance Party meant a lot to him.

“My father Hubert Nesbitt was one of the founders of the Alliance Party and was its first treasurer. The decision to found the Alliance Party was made in our house on April 19, 1970,” he told the Sunday Independent.

“I was an 18-year-old Queen’s University Belfast law student at the time and helped my mum host the event. The launch of the party was announced at a press conference on the April 21, 1970.”

Mr Nesbitt said he has been a supporter of the Alliance Party all of his adult life.

“As the managing partner of a busy law firm I have not been able to devote any time to help the party.

“The progress of Alliance has been as a result of the diligent and conscientious efforts of the party’s representatives in helping their constituents as well as the enthusiasm and dedication of many volunteers.

“I am pleased to have been able to help them in their efforts to convey the positive Alliance message and have shared in their delight and excitement at the recent electoral successes.”

The Alliance Party enjoyed its best ever performance in May’s Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The centre-ground party won 17 seats — up from the eight it won in the previous Assembly election in 2017 — and secured 13.5pc of first preference votes. This ​​​​​​success means it is now the third largest party at Stormont, behind Sinn Féin and the DUP.

In relation to donations, the Alliance Party has received a total of £806,997.64 since 2017, since when political parties in Northern Ireland have been required to make public the details of donations
they receive.

The money received by the Alliance Party is made up of £407,358.70 in donations from public funds and £399,638.94 from companies and individuals.

Since 2017, the Alliance Party has declared donations totalling £225,600 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

The trust states its mission and values are rooted in the liberalism of founder Joseph Rowntree and seeks to bring about “significant changes in the political system, making it more accountable, democratic and transparent and to rebalance power for the well-being of society”.

In November 2021, the Alliance Party received a donation of £60,000 from the will of Edward Dobson.

Other donations received by the party since 2017 include £21,561 from Ferring (Ireland) Limited in April 2018, £15,000 from Lord
Matthew Oakeshott in November 2019 and £10,000 from Fergus Wilson in November last year.

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