Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane has offered an apology to people who were offended by the “Up the Ra” comments he made at a party function after being elected.
But the deputy described the furore over the remarks as a “storm in a teacup” which, he said, was being used by people who didn't like Sinn Féin to make more of it than it was.
During a lengthy interview on WLR, Mr Cullinane said he made the comments at the end of what he said was a “very emotional speech” at a private function to party supporters after receiving over 20,000 votes in the Waterford constituency.
The speech was recorded and ended up being circulated on social media.
After addressing the matter with the media on Monday afternoon, he was interviewed at length on Tuesday morning by Damien Tiernan on Deise Today.
“I was reflecting back on what was a very emotional period in republican history, the Hunger Strikes,” Mr Cullinane said.
“I was reflecting on Kevin Lynch who was a candidate for the H-Blocks in the Waterford constituency – obviously, it would have been better if I had not said it, let's be honest.”
He put it down to “exuberance” and it being a celebration of the election result.
“It was a throwaway comment in some respects at the end of what for me was a very emotional speech talking to Sinn Féin supporters and I think most reasonable people will see that.”
He said he even forgot afterwards that he had even made the comment.
But he said the comments were being “sensationalised” and that it was a “distraction” from the important issues that Sinn Féin now wanted to pursue in Government.
Asked by the presenter would he make the comments in an interview, he said he wouldn't and that he didn't mean to cause offence.
Pressed was he apologising for the comments, he said: “No, it's not an apology for reflecting back on the Hunger Strikes, it's an apology for anybody that was offended by it – but, there's bigger issues out there.”
He said there were people out there that didn't like Sinn Féin who would make more of it that it was, adding: “I think it is a storm in a teacup.”
Asked would he make the same remarks again, he said: “No, it was exuberance, it was excitement.”