COMEDIAN Tommy Tiernan has refused to drop a routine from his sell-out Dublin show that the families of people with Down Syndrome do not find funny.
The sharp-tongued comic is under fire for making comments during his run at Vicar St about the benefits of getting people with the condition to courier drugs.
Half a dozen families have contacted Down Syndrome Ireland to complain that his jokes are highly offensive to their relatives.
They were all the more surprised as the Navan funnyman ran the Dublin marathon a few weeks ago in aid of the Dublin branch of the charity.
Last night, the head of Down Syndrome Ireland said Tiernan refused to withdraw the controversial item from his routine.
Chief executive officer John Lindsay said the comedian had explained his remarks were taken out of context and were preceded by a statement about segregation in Ireland.
It is not the first time the outspoken comic has provoked national ire. 'Late Late Show' viewers have regularly complained about his comments on taboo subjects during interviews with Pat Kenny.
Last night, Mr Lindsay said he was "uncomfortable" with the sketch.
He said: "Tommy said he was not changing the material and invited me along to look, but I would like to go when he's not expecting me," he said.
"One particular member of our charity rang me and said he was deeply offended when he suggested that individuals with Down Syndrome should courier drugs.
"Tommy's version was so different to what I was told. I was talking to him this afternoon and he had a totally different slant on what was said and said he had prefaced his remarks by asking why there was so much segregation in Ireland, and why people with Down Syndrome were not questioned in murder investigations, for example," Mr Lindsay added.
Last night, Tommy Tiernan said all his friends with Down Syndrome and their families think his routine is funny.
In a statement, he said they are delighted to be mentioned in the show instead of being ignored or treated with pity.
"What I try to do is imagine a world where people with Down Syndrome are fully integrated into society and my job is to imagine it ridiculously," he said.
"Some people don't get it and that's ok. They're still welcome to come along and laugh at the bits about Travellers, Romanians, Offaly, and duck sex."