Garda probe after poll hopeful says he was blackmailed over clip
GARDAI are investigating by-election candidate David Hall's claims he was blackmailed over a video of him making allegedly racist comments.
Mr Hall has insisted that the clip where he could be heard saying "everyone should have one" in reference to "blacks" was friendly banter with a Sri Lankan businessman.
He says he was asked for €10,000 in exchange for the destruction of a video and has made a complaint to gardai.
Mr Hall, the founder of the Irish branch of the Make A Wish Foundation, also says that the Sri Lankan man is a friend who "can't believe what has happened".
The Irish Independent has also learned that garda detectives have launched a wide-ranging investigation into the blackmail allegations after a second man came forward to tell officers yesterday that he had also been subjected to demands for money.
The inquiry is linked to the investigation into alleged attempts to extort money from Mr Hall.
Mr Hall, pictured, one of the favourites to take a seat in Dublin West, gave a statement to gardai alleging that somebody had asked for €10,000 in return for the video, which was filmed at the Fitzwilliam card club in Dublin in 2007. He says he refused to pay the money and went to gardai instead.
The mortgage debt campaigner says the comments were made during a card game, which involved a lifelong friend originally from Sri Lanka.
"I don't remember all of what happened during the card game but there was some harmless banter. It was seven years ago.
"A short clip was taken out of context and made to look as if I was making racist comments, which I wasn't.
"My friend reminded me that he had just made a jibe about every home needing a fat, bald Irish fella. It was completely harmless banter, the sort of thing which happens when playing cards.
"My friend is a shy man. He can't believe that this is even happening," said Mr Hall.
Mr Hall quit Fianna Fail in 2008 and has spearheaded several groups campaigning over how banks here treat customers, especially those in mortgage debt.