A right-of-centre conservative group have hit out at "Stalinesque" criticism of Young Fine Gael president Killian Foley-Walsh's attendance at a hard-line US conference amid calls for him to be removed from his party role.
The Conservative Dissent group criticised Irish media outlets after Mr Foley-Walsh and fellow Young Fine Gael member Chloe Kennedy's appearance at the Young America's Foundation's annual conference.
Conservative Dissent said the YAF conference has previously been attended by former US president Ronald Reagan and is about "liberty" and "a rejection of communism".
It said the coverage of their attendance was "Stalinesque"; that those who took part in YAF are not "modern-day Heinrich Himmlers", and that "freedom and tolerance starts not with those who we may agree with but with those we don't".
Six members of Young Fine Gael's national executive demanded a "full explanation" from Mr Foley-Walsh about why he and other party members attended the US conference.
They said the national executive was not told in advance of the trip, and that the reason for the visit needs to be clarified urgently.
The Young Fine Gael statement, which was endorsed by vice-president Genevieve O'Mahony, director of membership Conor McGowen and director of campaigns Daniel Lynch, read: “We are deeply concerned that the Edmund Burke Institute [which paid for Mr Foley-Walsh and Ms Kennedy's trip to the conference] was involved in this trip particularly in light of recent interactions between the institute and members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.
"At a time when the extreme Right is on the rise it is more important than ever that the centre holds. We will fight to hold that centre ground with everything we have for the remainder of our term.