The famous Fianna Fáil fundraising tent at the week-long Galway Races represents what is worst about the unregulated culture of political donations in Ireland, the Greens said today.
Minister for Sport and Tourism Seamus Brennan admitted at the weekend that the Government party’s corporate marquee at the Ballybrit Racecourse inevitably attracted annual controversy and should be reviewed.
Guests, including builders and property developers, pay up to €4,000 for a table of 10 in the tent, which is usually attended by the Taoiseach and several ministers.
Former Mayor of Galway Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin said today that the tent was “an annual reminder that the regulation of political donations is woefully insufficient”.
The Green councillor added: “Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or the PDs didn’t record any donations in their accounts for last year, yet they managed to spend millions during this year’s general election campaign. That is an absolute disgrace.”
Mr Ó Brolcháin said that the Green Party recognised the role of lobbying in the democratic process – both on behalf of corporate and other interest groups.
But it should be transparent and above board and the Fianna Fáil tent at Ballybrit fulfils neither criteria, he said.
“I don’t think that anybody in the Green Party would have a problem with Fianna Fáil politicians attending the races, but the symbolism of the corporate tent definitely needs to be looked at,” he added.
The Programme for Government agreed by Fianna Fáil and the Greens aims to establish an independent electoral commission to help regulate political donations.