BANKRUPT tycoon Sean Quinn cried and shook with emotion as he told supporters that he'd clear his name "within two or three years".
Mr Quinn (66) was the guest of honour at the opening of the Ballinamore Family Festival in Leitrim yesterday and was cheered by a crowd of more than 1,000 as he launched a vociferous attack on Anglo Irish Bank.
The former billionaire said he had attended the first Ballinamore Festival 47 years ago and was a regular visitor to the town since.
"I used to come up on a Sunday night and I would get robbed, but I only thought I was being robbed when you see what has happened since," he said.
Mr Quinn said he didn't want to go into the detail of the Anglo case.
"If I'm to blame for any of this, I apologise. I made mistakes," he said during a 20-minute speech.
"We certainly made lots of mistakes. There is no way I should have invested so much money in Anglo Irish Bank. I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't know they were what they were."
He said governments for the past 15 years had run "Ireland Plc" by increasing costs three times that of inflation.
"No country can do that," he said. "It's just not feasible."
Mr Quinn referred to legislation brought in by Alan Shatter in 2011 to fight "white-collar crime".
He went on: "If it's a criminal offence to withhold information on white-collar crime, there's a wild lot of criminals about that Dublin area."
The Fermanagh man claimed Quinn Direct had been "the best-run insurance company in the history of the State and that's not my figures saying that, that's their own figures saying that." But Mr Quinn's claim is at odds with the Financial Regulator moving in 2010 to put the insurance arm of Mr Quinn's businesses into administration after the company failed to rectify a solvency shortfall.
The move set in train a series of events that ultimately led to the collapse of Mr Quinn's business empire.
And in an ongoing legal action, the administrators of Quinn Insurance have launched a €1bn claim against accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers over alleged negligent auditing of the company's accounts over several years.
Mr Quinn said he had been lifted by letters he received from across Ireland during his "nine-week holiday in Mountjoy" and he believed most people understood that "Sean Quinn never took a penny from anyone".
To huge cheers, he added: "I think I'll be able to stand up here in two or three years' time and say I've been vindicated."
Earlier, Adrian Smyth from the festival committee had introduced Mr Quinn to the crowd as someone who "never forgot where he came from and who invested and re-invested in his local area".
Mr Smyth said the festival had begun 47 years ago as a festival for emigrants and that the "landscape of the Ballinamore community would be a great deal different if it wasn't for people like Sean Quinn creating jobs".
"The real and tangible results of this were that community groups could prosper, spin-off businesses were created, football clubs could field an extra team, scout troops had an extra patrol and schools could stay open and maybe have an extra teacher.
"It might not have seemed a lot, but when you take all that away the results are drastic."
As Mr Smyth spoke, Mr Quinn wept, wiping away tears.