Irish deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore has called the false claim by Forbes magazine that Irish President Michael D Higgins is gay an 'embarrassment' for the author rather than for anyone else.
Higgins, who married his wife Sabena Coyn in 1974, was described as an 'acknowledged homosexual' in an article in Forbes magazine, the US business bible.
According to the Irish Independent the article was taken down when the error was discovered. David Monagan, the journalist who wrote the article, acknowledged his 'terrible' error and immediately apologized to the President.
Asked for his thoughts on the issue Gilmore said the embarrassment was the author's and no one else's.
'On the Forbes article, I understand it was online and was taken down. That tells us everything we need to know about that article. It is more a source of embarrassment for the journalist who wrote it rather than it is for anyone else,' he said.
A spokeswoman for 'Forbes' said the magazine seriously regretted the error and would be sending a written apology to President Higgins.
In a statement, issued 24 hours after the article was pulled from its website, the magazine wrote: 'On July 23, a contributor to Forbes.com posted an article about American UN Ambassador nominee Samantha Power that contained a serious error concerning the President of Ireland, Mr Michael D Higgins.
'Both Forbes and the author of the post David Monagan sincerely regret the error. Forbes is issuing an apology to President Higgins in a separate correspondence.'
'Monagan is part of Forbes.com's contributor network and the article in question did not appear in Forbes magazine,' it added.
Monagan, a US citizen who lives in Cork, told the press he will write to President Higgins to personally apologize for the mistake.
Monagan, who moved to Ireland 10 years ago, told the press he could not believe he made such 'an inexcusable error' and felt 'absolutely terrible' over what happened.
'I just want to offer my sincere apology to the President and his family for what happened,' he said. 'I have been reporting on the most complex, difficult things, including cardiovascular medicine, for 35 years and I have never had a mistake like this.'
In his article Monagan had written: 'The current president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, is a poet, acknowledged homosexual, and nearly as outspoken as his predecessors.'