Due to concerns about foreign interference in politics, Ireland has banned crypto donations to political parties. The new law also covers foreign donations and misinformation. It has transparency requirements for political parties over fears of Russian interference in Ireland’s elections.
However, Ireland saying “no” to crypto donations for political parties is a stark comparison to South Korean and US politicians who have been embracing cryptos. Crypto donations have been pouring in Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as altcoin for politicians in other countries.
Darragh O’Brien, one of the ministers who proposed the amendments, said the laws will further protect their democratic system amid the threat of cyber warfare targeting free countries. There are concerns that cryptocurrency donations can mask the donor’s identity. The Local Government Minister highlighted that a newly established Electoral Commission will oversee compliance with the laws to stop dark money flowing to candidates from foreign governments.
O’Brien initiated the campaign to reform the laws in January 2022. He set up a task force of political scientists and legal experts to investigate new election laws because of the raging Russia-Ukraine war. As such, the task force suggested a series of measures in order to build a legal and digital bulwark against election interference in Ireland. This included parties providing streamlined accountancy reporting and declarations on adherence to the new political funding laws. The minister wants the new law and commission set up by the summer parliamentary recess.
Derville Rowland, Director General Financial Conduct at the Central Bank of Ireland, had raised concerns in 2021 over the increased popularity of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.