Organisers of a London Fine Gael event were left embarrassed as a women’s rights group hijacked their fundraising dinner to ‘knicker-bomb’ Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Friends of Fine Gael, London held the £100 per head function atCricklewood’s Crown Moran Hotel in order for Irish citizens in the UK to support Ireland’s leading political party.
Representatives of Speaking of Imelda (Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion)interrupted the evening with apparent ease as they protested for a change to Ireland’s abortion law.
During their protest, two women threw a pair of white underwear onto the Taoiseach’s place setting with the slogan ‘Repeal the 8thEnda’, as a third group member filmed the dramatic intrusion.
Prior to this the gatecrashers addressed the dinner’s attendees by stating: “Twelve women a day have no option but to make the same trip from Ireland every day.”
The video, which has been watched by over 30,000 people on YouTube so far, shows that it took almost 40 seconds before the women were escorted away from the start of the film.
The Taoiseach remained calm in as he was directly confronted by the protesters, making no reply to their challenge and even returned to his glass of wine as he was presented with the symbolic ‘dirty laundry’.
However, the video shows a palpable lack of action from the room to halt the disruption and in the end it was Managing Director of Moran & Bewley’s Hotels Group whose alertness served to limit the embarrassment of his guest.
As the camera moved over Mr Kenny’s shoulder to capture the slogan Tom Moran, sat to his right, promptly placed his napkin over the underwear to prevent further heightened coverage of the incident.
Cricklewood’s Crown Moran hotel has held many similar high-profile functions in the past which have gone without incident, but this protest is sure to embarrass the event’s organisers who are reported to have raised €25,000 through the dinner.
It is illegal for parties to accept foreign political donations under ethics legislation, but they are permitted to receive donations from Irish citizens who live abroad.
Prior to the dinner the party’s head of fundraising Helen Connolly sent an email to TDs, Senators and MEPs to advertise the event to increase Fine Gael financial support.
“We are keen to extend the invitation to as many supporters as possible, so if you have any contacts in London who would be interested in coming, please forward me their details and I will add them to the mailing list,” Ms Connolly wrote.
After gaining more attention following their protest, Speaking of Imelda have launched a ‘Knickers to Enda’ campaign for people to post similarly emblazoned underwear to the Taoiseach to pressurise a change to the country’s 8th amendment.