CLANNAD has defended its use of lyrics penned by controversial poet Cathal O Searcaigh on its first album in 15 years.
A verse composed by Mr O Searcaigh, who strenuously denied claims that he sexually exploited teenage boys in Nepal, features on Clannad's song 'Rhapsody na gCrann'.
The song is the second track on new album 'Nadur'. The European launch took place at the Irish Embassy in London last night.
"Cathal is a friend for years, a very good friend," Clannad singer Moya Brennan said.
"Artistically, from an artist to an artist, he is a wonderful poet and we thought it would be really nice for him to write with us."
Asked if she thought the group's decision to involve the poet in their follow up to 1998's Grammy winning 'Landmarks' would prove controversial, she said: "From an artistic point of view, the man is a great poet and that's the way it is...
"He has remained a friend for a very long time. It's a lovely track called 'Magic of the Trees'."
O'Searcaigh's relationships with teenagers as young as 16 emerged after the TV documentary 'Fairytale of Kathmandu' was broadcast in 2008.
He previously defended his actions, saying the boys were above the age of consent.
Both the poet and the band hail from Co Donegal.
With sales in excess of 15 million albums, Clannad remain one of the most popular Irish groups of all time.
Featuring the full original line-up – siblings Moya, Ciaran and Pol Brennan, and their twin uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan – other collaborators on the album include Duke Special and novelist Colum McCann, who also supplies sleeve notes.
"We wanted to do something different from the records we made before and that's why we brought in other writers," Ms Brennan said.