Fine Gael Headquarters has confirmed it is investigating a complaint about alleged offensive language used at a Fine Gael meeting in Kells on Monday night.
Former TD and Meath Chamber President, John V Farrelly has apologised unreservedly for any offence caused and stepped aside from his role as chairman of the Meath East Constituency pending the outcome of the investigation.
It has been reported that Mr Farrelly said "the n****r in the woodpile" and "f*****g bitch" in the context of a discussion about Cllr Gillian Toole who left the FG party earlier this year.
Mr Farrelly categorically denies saying "f*****g bitch"
It is believed that a number of complaints have been made to the party about his language,
The incident happened at the annual meeting of Kells District Fine Gael.
Cllr Noel French who attended the meeting as a guest confirmed he heard Mr Farrelly used the words "n****r in the woodpile, but wasn't sure if it was about Cllr Toole or if he used the other profanity.
"It was totally inappropriate and he should publicly apologise," said Cllr French. "It is not acceptable and that language should not used under any circumstances. It has no place in modern Ireland."
A spokesperson for Fine Gael confirmed a complaint has been received. "The matter is being dealt with. Such language, if used, has absolutely no place whatsoever in public life. The Fine Gael party abhors this type of language," she said.
Minister Regina Doherty said the reported comments were absolutely unacceptable. "I understand that a complaint has been received by Fine Gael and the matter is being dealt with. I expect the most appropriate sanction to apply."
Mr Farrelly, who is also the President of the Meath Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement today saying he was apologising unreservedly, as he did on the night during the meeting and subsequently following the conclusion of the meeting, for any offence that has been caused by his comments.
"I am fully co-operating with the ongoing investigation that is being conducted by Fine Gael HQ, following last Monday nights Kells District AGM. I have stepped aside from my role as chairperson of the Meath East Constituency, pending the outcome of the investigation. I apologise profusely for using a metaphor that has caused offence and hurt, as this was not my intention.
"I categorically deny saying 'fxxxxxg bitch' during the course of the private meeting. I also wish to put on record that I hold Councillor Gillian Toole with the highest regard and always have done," he said.