Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar sent a WhatsApp message on Sunday to a leading member of the party's youth organisation - who was expelled from the party - telling him that his membership has been reinstated.

Jude Perry was expelled from Fine Gael last week after the party claimed that he publicly supported his father John who is now an independent candidate in the General Election.

The expulsion is understood to have caused much anger within party ranks and Mr Perry is requesting a public apology from Mr Varadkar.

Mr Perry issued a statement today claiming that the Fine Gael leader informed him via a WhatsApp message on Sunday that he and his mother Marie’s party membership has been reinstated.

In the statement Mr Perry said: "On Sunday evening I received a communication, via WhatsApp message, from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, that the Fine Gael membership of both my mother Marie and I has been reinstated.

"It came as a considerable surprise to me and my family that my mother had also been secretly expelled from Fine Gael after decades of involvement with the party."

He welcomed Mr Varadkar’s communication after "much upset and public controversy". But Mr Perry has tonight called for a person independent of Fine Gael to be appointed to conduct an inquiry into the expulsion after the General Election.

"It is important to ensure no similar expulsion without a hearing occur in the future and that Fine Gael respects the value of due process and fair hearing," the statement added.

"I am requesting a public apology from the Taoiseach, the Fine Gael party and the North West Regional Organiser for the substantial reputational damage, extraordinary stress and upset, experienced by both me and my mum as a result of this unnecessary event."

Jude's father John was elected a Fine Gael TD in Sligo-Leitrim in 1997 and he was re-elected in 2002, 2007 and 2011 before losing his seat in 2016. The former Minister of State is now an independent candidate.

Mr Perry who is currently studying in Washington DC in the US said his only participation was posting "a few things" on his father's Facebook page. He was been out of the country since 9 January and said he has not "canvassed a soul".

On Saturday Fine Gael's Director of Organisation, Paschal Donohoe, indicated that he hoped Jude Perry could return to the party in the future. However, he said the rules of the party are crystal clear and no member is allowed to work on behalf of a non-Fine Gael candidate in an election.

Fine Gael has not commented on the matter today but sources within the party have confirmed that the decision to expel Mr Perry from the party has been rescinded.

Party sources have indicated that any incidents where Fine Gael members have canvassed for candidates from outside the party will be dealt with after the General Election.

Jude Perry was one of the key figures who helped establish Fine Gael's first branch in Northern Ireland last year. He also spoke at the party's National Conference in 2019.

Additional reporting: Mícheál Lehane