Heather Humphreys has said she was upset by her former party leader’s ‘Border people’ comments – but welcomes his apology.
The Social Protection Minister said she now wanted to draw a line under a controversy that has raged since the third episode of RTÉ’s documentary about businessman Sean Quinn went to air.
In the episode, former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes suggested people living near the border have violence “in their blood”.
The comments have been heavily criticised by politicians from all parties and on Today FM yesterday, Mr Dukes apologised.
"Those remarks were entirely unjustified,” he said. “They offended a great number of people.”
He said he was thinking about the wave of violence and intimidation that came after the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC) took control of the Quinn Group.
"It didn't in any sense justify for the remarks I made, which as I say, I apologise for without any qualification,” he said.
Minister Humphreys welcomed the apology.
“Can I just say that the people living in the border area were rightly upset at the comments – and rightly so,” she said. “To be honest with you, I was upset about them myself.
“Border communities are full of decent hardworking people and I just want to say that they endured and stood against the violence of terrorists and criminals for many, many decades.
“I’m glad he has apologised for it and I think we can draw a line under that now. I welcome that fact.”
"In their blood"
In the documentary, Mr Dukes said: "Border people have it in their blood.”
“They are living in communities that have a long history of violence of different kinds and they will more easily turn to it than anybody else will.
“I am not saying they are different animals from the rest of us but whether they have Provo links or B-Special links or whatever, it is something that is nearer to the way they think than it would be to somebody in south Tipperary or anywhere like that.”
The 'Quinn Country' documentary documents the rise and fall of Seán Quinn’s business empire – and examines the abduction and torture of Quinn Industrial Holdings Director Kevin Lunney.