Gormley: will receive award

THE Green Party is to hold a fundraising dinner in the Dáil restaurant next month to celebrate its success in bringing recent animal welfare legislation into law.

Party leader John Gormley will be presented with a special award by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports at the dinner, to "mark the recent achievements".

The dinner will be held in early October with tickets costing €55. The actual cost of the four-course dinner is estimated to be around €35, with the €20 difference going to the Green Party coffers.

An invitation to the event said the award to Gormley was to mark the recent achievements in the area of animal welfare, particularly the ban on stag hunting and the regulation of dog breeding establishments. The two pieces of legislation, passed before the summer break, proved hugely controversial with Fianna Fáil backbench TDs who came under strong pressure to resist the bills from rural lobby group Rise. Although a threatened revolt of Fianna Fáil TDs never materialised, Tipperary South TD Mattie McGrath lost the party whip after voting against the stag hunting bill.

The animal welfare bill was seen as being a key issue for Green party activists and the invitation states: "Many of you have campaigned for decades for these advances and we think that it would be appropriate for us all to get together and celebrate the occasion."

The use of the Dáil restaurant by political parties for such dinners is not unusual.

However, the Green Party is determined to bring in a ban on corporate donations to political parties in the coming months. Such a ban was included in the revised programme for government last year and Green figures have identified it as a key issue for the party in the coming Dáil term. Although it is seen as potentially contentious for the government partners, Fianna Fáil sources say that any measure agreed in the programme for government will be implemented, although they accepted that there may be some argument over the timing of its introduction.