Anti-Nama protesters gather at the Green Party conference in Athlone yesterday

FURTHER changes will be made to the controversial Nama legislation before it passes into law in the Dáil, the environment minister John Gormley has said.

Gormley was speaking as he addressed over 150 delegates at the Green Party's latest internal party discussion in Athlone's Sheraton Hotel yesterday.

When asked if additional changes will be made to the Nama legislation, Gormley said: "You will see further changes. We hope that some of the changes that are reflected here today can in fact be reflected in the legislation.

"The concerns you see today are reflected among the general public. Today is an information session where we will go through the issues in quite some detail and the decisions will come later."

Opinion over Nama was divided among party members yesterday with slightly more of the party's 'No' faction in evidence. The leadership now has four weeks, until 10 October, when members will have general votes on Nama and the new renegotiated programme for government.

Former Green councillor Tom Kivlehan said, "I feel the Greens should support Nama. We have put a lot into the new Nama legislation. John Gormley and Eamon Ryan have added issues such as the risk sharing.

"There are still a few other things that can be put in there and we can tweak it slightly. Our amendments have not finished yet. We have a picture there now so let's see if we can improve that picture."

Another member, who did not wish to be named, said, "Nama is a disgrace. Nama is nothing except the Irish people bailing out the bondholders."

The Green Party used a 'preferendum' system to gauge members' views on the Nama plan yesterday. This system allows members to look at a number of options on Nama and helps the party identify what "the generally accepted, rather than the dominant, view" on Nama is.

The party will not make the preferendum results public but it will use it to set out how it approaches the issue in the weeks ahead.

Member John Hardt said, "I think we should look at other options. I am uncomfortable with taxpayers being saddled with indeterminate debt.

"Sometimes I think that because of their close associations with Fianna Fáil, our ministers' judgement is being coloured by that and it is our job as Green members to bring them back to Green thinking."

Pat Fitzpatrick from Athenry said, "Nama won't work and should it work, it is immoral. It is asking the wrong people to carry the can for somebody else's mistakes."

A small number of protestors from Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, and the Socialist Workers' party gathered outside the hotel early yesterday morning as Green party delegates arrived.