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FG ladies defend €100-a-head lunch to raise funds for party

Fine Gael leading ladies have been criticised for choosing one of the country's most expensive hotels for a fundraising lunch.

At a time of anti-austerity protests, the choice of the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin for a €100-a-head lunch for Fine Gael politicians and female party supporters was questioned on the national airwaves.

Dublin city councillor Kate O'Connell strongly defended the decision to hold the lunch at the plush hotel last Friday.

The party could not ask people to pay €100 and then "just give them a burger", Ms O'Connell said.

"It was to raise funds for the party and it happens every year at the hotel.

"There were no airs and graces," she told the Herald.

She was a guest on the Marian Finucane radio show on RTE Radio One yesterday when the broadcaster read out criticism from a listener who questioned the decision by Fine Gael women to choose the upmarket venue.

It stated: "Did they not think it was a bit off in these times?"

Ms O'Connell said it was an annual event "that suits certain people" at which they get a reasonable lunch.


"It's a fundraising event and we need as a party to raise funds and, I suppose, promote women within the party. I'd make no apologies for lunch in the Four Seasons," she said.

Ms O'Connell told the Herald that 250 to 300 women from around Ireland attended the lunch which consisted of a set menu of soup, breast of chicken, and apple crumble.

"There are lots of fundraising lunches which can be much more expensive," she said. "€100 is a lot of money for a lunch but it's just once a year."

TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor was the master of ceremonies and the Taoiseach's wife Fionnuala Kenny addressed the gathering, speaking very well "off the cuff", she said.

Raffle prizes included a night for two at the Four Seasons, a stay at a Radisson Hotel, a hamper of Barry's Tea, and a number of beauty products.