Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said he stands by remarks he made last week where he described how Michael Collins dealt with critical press coverage by the Irish Independent by holding the editor at gunpoint and dismantling the printing presses.

Speaking at a Sinn Féin fundrasing dinner in New York, he had reportedly qualified the statement by saying he was not advocating such an action.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has written to Mr Adams calling on him to withdraw the remarks.

Mr Adams repeated the remark in a post on his personal blog last Friday but without the qualification according to the WAN-IFRA letter.

WAN-IFRA, which represents 18,000 publications in more than 120 countries, says comments made by Mr Adams "may be viewed as a veiled threat against Independent News and Media journalists and editors".

The organisation said it is "seriously concerned" by the remark that Mr Adams made while criticising INM journalists for their coverage of the Máiría Cahill rape allegations.

The letter, seen by RTÉ News, goes on to say that at best Mr Adams' remarks were "highly insensitive" in light of the deaths of INM journalists Veronica Guerin and Martin O'Hagan.

WAN-IFRA points out to Mr Adams "that even a facetious reference to attacking journalists is entirely inappropriate" and calls on him to publicly reaffirm his abhorrence of all forms of violence against journalists.

Tonight Mr Adams issued a statement saying: "I have no intention of withdrawing my remarks. They were simply referencing a historical fact."