ONE of the most senior ministers in the government has come out strongly against any raising of the cap on donations to political parties as proposed by environment minister Martin Cullen.

Communications, marine and natural resources minister Dermot Ahern says he would be "extremely loath" to see any change in the current rules.

"I expressed this view in 2000 and I am still of the view that the less financial connection between corporate Ireland and political parties the better, " Ahern said this weekend. In that speech, three years ago, Ahern called for a scrapping of corporate donations.

Ahern says that things have moved on since then and he accepts the current situation whereby companies can make donations up to a certain level.

However, he is opposed to any change in those limits.

He also believes consideration should be given to allowing corporate bodies make donations to an "independent, democratic fund" that would be disbursed "in a clear and transparent manner".

However, in a reference to the Labour Party, Ahern said consideration should also be given to severing links between political parties and trade unions, arguing that where funds are donated, there "cannot be the faintest hint of a reciprocal obligation".