Wednesday 21 February 2018

Women's right group slap knickers up on Taoiseach's plate at FG fundraiser in London hotel

Protesters from Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A, a direct-action feminist group, demonstrate and hand out underwear outside the hotel where the fundraiser was taking place
Protesters from Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A, a direct-action feminist group, demonstrate and hand out underwear outside the hotel where the fundraiser was taking place

Fionnan Sheahan and Sam Griffin

Taoiseach Enda Kenny might not have had room for dessert after he was slapped up with something a little different on his plate at a Fine Gael fundraising dinner in London last night.

The party fundraising evening was dramatically interrupted by a women's rights group calling for action over Irish abortion laws who placed a pair of knickers in front of the Taoiseach during their protest.

The ‘Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A’ group slapped a pair of women’s underwear with ‘Repeal the 8th’ written on them on the Taoiseach’s plate as they chanted; “Repeal the 8th, repeal the 8th”, referring to calls for a referendum to appeal the 8th Amendment in the Constitution. 

The pair, who dramatically interrupted the £100-per-head event, welcomed Mr Kenny to London and spoke in unison as they recited; “Twelve woman a day have no option but to make the same trip from Ireland everyday.”

The duo were removed by security as the Taoiseach remained sitting in his chair.

"We came tonight because we wanted to spread our message to Irish people specifically and to highlight the issue of abortion in Ireland," said Belfast-born Tina Cluskey from the Imelda group.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny hosted the lucrative fundraiser in London last night, raking in up to €25,000 for Fine Gael.

Following a fortnight of controversy around the party's standards, Mr Kenny was the guest of honour at the party dinner.

The 'Friends of Fine Gael' event was attended by up to 200 party supporters at a price of €126 a head, with tables over €1,200. Fine Gael dinners also raise additional funds from raffles held among the guests.

The London fundraising dinner has been held on a number of occasions over the past decade, but not last year. Parties are not allowed to take donations from foreign nationals, but can accept donations from Irish citizens who live elsewhere.

Fine Gael insists the fundraiser adheres to the law as policed by Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPO).

"It is fully compliant with SIPO regulations," a spokesman said. Under the law, donations over €200 can only be accepted from companies or bodies registered with SIPO.

The dinner took place at the Crown Moran Hotel in Cricklewood.

Fine Gael dropped its annual golf fundraiser in London's Moor Park after entering Government in 2011. Before the party got into power, then-Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton expressed her opposition to the fundraising schemes in a celebrated speech to the MacGill Summer School, where she called on Fine Gael to be more than just 'Fianna Fail Light'.

Speaking at the dinner, Mr Kenny said the event was being held at a critical juncture for the economy. The latest growth figures, including from the Central Bank today, point to an economy that is in recovery. It is clear that our plan is working and the country is now moving in the right direction.

"We are now in a situation where Ireland has one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe," he said, adding they would continue to implement "our clear plan and strategy".

"We will maintain a firm hand on the tiller of the public finances and reduce the Government deficit to under 3pc of GDP by next year."

Irish Independent

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