Irish police are to question up to a dozen Aer Lingus passengers who were on board a flight where Neil Prendeville, a Cork radio talk show host, allegedly masturbated under an in-flight magazine.

Police sources are saying that the he may be arrested after their  investigation concludes.

It has emerged that an Irish journalist Niamh Hennessy, from the Cork Examiner, was one of the passengers who sat next to the radio host on board the Heathrow to Cork flight on October 19th.

Hotelier and Cork Convention Bureau official Seamus Heaney was in an aisle seat to the left of Neil Prendeville but denies witnessing the sex-act.

"The incident was brought to my attention by an air hostess. But I personally saw nothing, so I cannot comment," he told the Irish Independent.

Publicist to the stars Max Clifford said that the controversy would be “incredibly damaging” for  Prendeville and described his apology as “bizarre."

Neil Prendeville has taken leave from his $211,000 (€150,000) job with Cork's 96fm radio station after apologizing to listeners earlier this week.

The presenter made a dramatic on-air apology last Wednesday saying he had no memory of his actions on the flight due to the cocktail of alcohol and painkillers he consumed prior to boarding.

“I wish to confirm I did travel on the flight in question, I was asked to go to London to give a speech at a convention. I had taken three pain killing tablets before I left Cork.

“I remember being in the restaurant, I remember giving the speech, I remember being outside the restaurant talking with some other people, I know that I arrived there by train and by taxi and I do not recall how I got back to the airport.

“But I did get back to the airport and I did travel on the flight in question and because of a persistent neck injury I took those pain killers again prior to boarding the plane along with alcohol while at the restaurant and as a result I remember absolutely nothing about the flight itself or even coming through the airport or even how I got home.

“If the reports in the Examiner are true and I can’t deny that they are not because I just don’t recall and I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my deepest apologies to the passengers on the plane, to the flight personnel, to my family, to my employers and my work colleagues and all of the people of Cork," he said. “And I apologise unreservedly to all concerned.”

Prendeville's apology, which has been uploaded to Youtube, has received almost 20,000 hits.

A formal investigation was launched after Irish police received a complaint from air crew about the incident. Police have already taken statements from a number of Aer Lingus crew who were present on the flight. The 49-year-old is expected to be questioned by police in the coming weeks.