Former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes has faced severe criticism over the suggestion that people from the Border region have violence “in their blood”.
The remarks on the RTÉ documentary series Quinn Country sparked a furious reaction from TDs from the area, with the comments branded as “insulting and offensive” and “extraordinarily ignorant and stupid”.
As the Irish Times reports, Mr Dukes responded to the TDs’ criticism on Thursday saying there was a lot of “political posturing”.
He continued to argued that the region has “a particular history of violence” while conceding that his remarks were “not well-phrased” and saying he was not suggesting all people in the area were violent.
The Quinn Country documentary explored the aftermath of the collapse of Seán Quinn’s business empire.
It outlined how Quinn Group premises, property and equipment were subjected to repeated vandalism attacks in the wake of Mr Quinn losing control of the group after receivers were appointed over his debts of almost €3 billion to Anglo and the group’s debts of €1.1 billion to the bondholders.
The former billionaire has denied any involvement in the vandalism and has attributed the campaign to the anger felt by some supporters in the local community over his loss of the businesses
The final episode of the three-part documentary detailed the extensive campaign of threats, violence and intimidation against former Quinn Group executives and property over recent years, culminating in the abduction and assault on former Quinn executive Kevin Lunney in 2019.
Mr Dukes played a key role in Mr Quinn’s removal from the group while State-appointed chairman of the nationalised former Anglo-Irish Bank in 2011.
He told the documentary that people from the Border area have a tendency to turn to violence “in their blood”.
Speaking on RTÉ radio this morning he clarified what he meant by the comments.
Mr Dukes told Today with Claire Byrne that: "I'm saying it happens more frequently in border areas and that's been the history unfortunately the deplorable history of those areas for quite some time.
"I think it's necessary to point out that the atmosphere inn which this all happened was an atmosphere where people were very upset, where people saw a danger to their livelihoods and there was a particular kind of reaction that was seized on by people who then engaged in sabotage and in some kinds of violence.
"It's part of the history of that whole area of the country which I hope we have gone past now," he said "I do not, for a moment, say that everybody in the border area is inclined to be violent, that certainly wasn't my intention. I don't believe that, I wouldn't believe it for a second."
Additional reporting by Vivenne Clarke