An Irish member of the European Parliament is calling on the youth wing leader of the Fine Gael Party to resign this week for attending a conservative conference for students in Washington, D.C.
MEP Maria Walsh, who was recently elected to the European Parliament in May, said she would be requesting for the Young Fine Gael (YFG) to call on the organization’s president, Killian Foley-Walsh, to resign following Foley-Walsh’s attendance at the National Conservative Student Conference last week put on by the Young America’s Foundation.
Walsh’s problem? The conference featured many prominent conservative speakers from the Republican Party who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage and included high-ranking officials in the Trump administration, such as Vice President Mike Pence.
“Mr. Foley-Walsh, given his position, should not have aligned with this conference,” Walsh told the Independent, an Irish newspaper. “To support, to commit time, and to offer value by sharing an interest is not a reflection of the other members within YFG, and certainly not my own. I have spoken to several of the YFG members who also share their disappointment and outrage.”
Other leaders within Ireland’s largest governing party have also echoed Walsh’s concerns over Foley-Walsh’s trip to D.C.
The party’s Dublin Central candidate Deirdre Duffy announced she would be issuing a complaint to the Fine Gael’s headquarters over the conference, the Independent reported.
Noel Rock, an official within the Fine Gael told the Independent Foley-Walsh’s attendance was inappropriate given the guest list of speakers.
“I don’t understand how any young person would want to align themselves with the present Republican administration,” Rock told the Independent.
Foley-Walsh, however, made clear that he attended the conference in a personal capacity and that the Edmund Burke Foundation, independent of the Fine Gael, funded the trip. The young leader of the party’s youth wing also said he breaks with several speakers at the conference in supporting same-sex marriage. He remains staunchly opposed to abortion, however.
“Fine Gael is a broad church and welcomes social conservatives as well as social liberals,” Foley-Walsh said to the Independent.
The Young America’s Foundation responded to the criticism from Irish leaders Wednesday, specifically targeting Walsh for once endorsing a tweet calling the foundation “a horrific hate-filled organization.”
“The Irish students at NCSC were attending in their personal capacity,” the foundation said in a statement. “The fact that anyone in Ireland is so threatened by a handful of students attending YAF’s flagship conference is a testament to these intolerant individuals’ weakness and insecurity in their own ideas.”
Last week’s conference was one of the foundation’s largest yet, including more than 1,300 students over the course of the week, to hear from leading figures in the conservative movement. The event this year featured big-name speakers in the Trump administration in addition to Pence, such as the vice president’s chief of staff Marc Short and national security adviser John Bolton. The event also drew a number of prominent Republican senators to its lineup, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Rick Scott of Florida, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.