Food companies offered access to FG TDs for €250
A GROUP representing 600 businesses has told members they will have the opportunity to "influence" Government ministers and TDs at this weekend's Fine Gael Ard Fheis.
Companies involved in the food and tourism sector have been offered access to the political conference for a €250 fee, the Irish Independent has learnt.
The invitation was extended to members of Good Food Ireland, which is an umbrella group representing some 600 businesses. Over half of the businesses export abroad.
In an email to members, Good Food Ireland said the event should be used as a "promotional opportunity".
The interest group, which receives sponsorship from a number of multinational firms, told its members that it has been "exclusively invited" to attend the Ard Fheis tomorrow.
"The expected attendance is between 2,600-3,000. The attendance will be all Fine Gael TDs from around the country, ministers, senators and some councillors. The invitation has also been extended to all Fine Gael members nationally," the email states.
"This is your chance to influence government once again on the positivity in the food and tourism sectors and to cement the role of indigenous food and food tourism as an economic growth driver for our country."
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Good Food Ireland CEO Margaret Jeffares said she expects members to engage with TDs "one-on-one".
"We expect that all members of Fine Gael will be there, including ministers and TDs. And of course, absolutely, our members will engage with them one-on-one on both national and local issues," she said.
"The interest from our members has been fantastic, and there will be a broad range of businesses at the event. It is an honour for us to be there and we appreciate the platform from the Government.
"But it will also give the Government an opportunity to applaud our members for their efforts in promoting Irish food and generating tourism."
Businesses that attend the event are invited to sell products in the RDS exhibition hall, where they are provided with a stand with their company logo.
The conference is due to be opened by Taoiseach Enda Kenny this evening, followed by Health Minister James Reilly, who will give an address on the Government's plans for Universal Health Insurance.
The party's session on Jobs and Economic Growth is scheduled to be held tomorrow afternoon and will be televised.