Minister for the Environment John Gormley has defended comments he made about Tibet during his leader's address to the Green Party convention last night.

The Chinese Ambassador walked out of the convention in Dundalk when Mr Gormley condemned human rights abuses in Tibet and called on the Chinese Government to enter into dialogue with spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Gormley said the Chinese Ambassador had been informed in advance by the party's general secretary of what he was going to say about Tibet.

He said he feels strongly about the situation in Tibet and he feels it needs to be addressed.

He said that real dialogue is needed between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said talk of a diplomatic row with China over Tibet is 'overblown'.

Mr Ahern said Minister Gormley had discussed what he was going to say with him on Friday.

He said the problem may have been that Mr Gormley referred to Tibet as a country, which he described as a 'slip of the tongue'.

But Mr Ahern said the call for dialogue was Government policy, which had been outlined to the Ambassador by his Department on many occasions.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Biwei said it was 'totally wrong' to describe Tibet as a country, and claimed Mr Gormley had accused the Chinese government without knowing what was truly happening there.

In other parts of his speech, Mr Gormley said he believed a majority of people would now support the introduction of a carbon levy to deal with climate change - and he called on the Opposition to adopt a cross-party approach to climate change.

The Green leader said his party's position on standards in public life has not changed one iota since entering Government.

He said it was their fervent hope that all of the tribunals of inquiry will root out every last morsel of corruption from Irish political life.

Dalai Lama would resign

Separately the Dalai Lama said he would resign as leader of Tibet's exiled government if violence in his homeland spreads out of control.

'If violence becomes out of control then my only option is to resign,' the spiritual leader said at a news conference. 'If the majority of people commit violence, then I resign.'