THE documentary ‘Quinn Country’ has stirred up its fair share of controversy, but comments made by a former Fine Gael leader about people living on the border have enraged local politicians.
Featuring candid testimony from Sean Quinn himself, the highly anticipated series attempted to tell the story of the man who personified Ireland’s boom and subsequently, its bust.
Former Fine Gael leader and one-time chair of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, Alan Dukes, featured prominently in the documentary, and in one scene he commented that border people will “more easily” turn to violence.
Speaking in the context of violence and intimidation following the takeover of the Quinn companies, the former Irish government minister spoke about residents in the border area.
“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,” Mr Dukes said in the programme’s last episode.
“I am not saying they are different animals than the rest of us but whether they have Provo links… It’s something nearer to the way they think than it would be to somebody in south Tipperary or somewhere like that.”
After the show was televised Mr Dukes later tried to tone down what he had said on the programme.
“I shouldn’t have said it in the way that I said,” he explained.
“What I meant to convey was that the protests that were there and the emotion that was there, were seized upon by people who are violent and who carried out acts of sabotage and despicable personal violence against people. And I deplore that.”
However, Mr Duke’s remarks on ‘Quinn Country’ did not surprise local Sinn Fein councillor Chris McCaffrey from Kinawley, who demanded an apology from him.
“Alan Dukes has again proven [to have] a disdain that is so often shown to border communities via his foolish and ill-informed comments during the final episode of RTÉ’s Quinn Country,” Cllr McCaffrey said.
“Mr Dukes has caused a lot of hurt and annoyance over these contemptuous remarks and displayed a clearly elitist and partitionist view about border communities.
“I call on him to apologise and retract his ill-guided remarks about our community.
“We will not be looked down on by anyone, least of all by a former bank chairman who endorsed grossly inflated salaries for state officials and who has snubbed the public time and time again.”
Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Jemma Dolan also slammed his comments, calling them “completely unacceptable”.
“He should withdraw [them] and apologise for them immediately. Speaking to people after he made his remarks it is clear he has caused a great deal of hurt and offence,” she said.
“It also goes some way towards explaining the fact that our communities, on both sides of the border, have been abandoned by successive Dublin governments.”
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