A member of the European Parliament, along with the help of Irish media outlets, launched disgusting attacks on Irish students for attending a conservative conference in the U.S. last week. The outlets and the politician should be wholeheartedly condemned by both left and right.
Irish Independent reporter Hugh O’Connell wrote an article Monday detailing attacks on several members of the Fine Gael Youth Party for attended the Young America’s Foundation’s 41st annual National Conservative Student Conference last week. The story has sparked vitriol in Irish media because Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, essentially the prime minister of Ireland, is also a member of Fine Gael. Fine Gael describe themselves to be “a party of progressive center.” They claim that they “act in a way that is right for Ireland, regardless of dogma or ideology.”
O’Connell quoted multiple sources attacking traditionally held conservative beliefs, including opposition to abortion. One source remarked that the YAF holds “regressive positions” and another stated “I don’t understand how any young person would want to align themselves with the present Republican administration.” O’Connell failed to even mention if he reached out to YAF for comment.
Holding pro-life views isn’t a “regressive position.” In fact, it’s the most compassionate position of all. The unborn are the most vulnerable among us, and they are entirely at the mercy of those who have already had the privilege of being born. Fighting for those who have no voice is the pinnacle of true progressiveness, but it seems as though many in the Irish media are blind to that.
Further, there are a myriad of reasons for why one would wish to align themselves with the Trump administration. Sure, his rhetoric is reprehensible and should be called out regularly, but his policies have largely been good. His work in securing the future of the Judiciary branch will be looked back on as vital to the future of conservatism, his support of Israel has been resounding, and he has largely been one of the most pro-life presidents in recent years.
In an article released Wednesday by the Irish Examiner, a columnist claims that there “is a commonality” between NCSC and the mass shootings that occurred in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. YAF’s statement calling the allegation “shameful.”
“Shameful” is a far more reserved response than this allegation deserved. This is a disgusting attack meant to further the divide a grieving public. YAFers don’t condone violence, and they in no way wish for dozens of innocent people slaughtered. To say that there “is a commonality” between YAF and domestic terrorism is vitriol masquerading as punditry, and a profoundly ignorant statement. Speakers at conferences like NCSC routinely teach attendees to condemn violence, bigotry, and hatred. YAFers understand that good-faith discussion is the proper way to advance political ideas.
Media outlets weren’t the only ones smearing these students, as member of European Parliament Maria Walsh called upon conference attendee and Young Fine Gael president Killian Foley-Walsh to resign from his position for his attendance.
“Quite frankly, Mr. Foley-Walsh, given his position, should not have aligned with this conference,” Walsh told the Irish Independent. “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.”
The childishness displayed by Walsh is astounding. In her statement, she completely contradicts the mission of the Fine Gael Party. Have as many disagreements with conservatism as you wish, but to demonize it to the point of asking someone to resign is ludicrous and is no way “act in the way that is right for Ireland” as her party claims to do. Foley-Walsh merely wanted to learn more about the ideology, and to hear from some of the prominent minds that preach it.
What’s clear is that many of the same issues that plague the American media also plague Irish media. Students were attacked for trying to freely engage in the exchange of ideas, and because of their wish to hear from conservative thinkers, they were compared to mass shooters.
Good faith arguments and openness to discussion are integral to a healthy political landscape. When a member of the European Parliament is demanding the resignations of a college student for participating in an event that may challenge her world view, it truly puts a dent in any hope of a willingness to engage in meaningful debates worldwide.
The students should be applauded for taking the time to engage in political discussion. YAF hosts a variety of speakers with a variety of views, and it’s likely that their line of thinking was challenged while at NCSC. The only ones who are deserving of outrage are the adults who have the audacity to smear students for wanting to learn.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.