Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has apologised for using a Chinese accent to impersonate the state's glowing praise of Irish IT skills.
The former foreign affairs minister admitted the gaffe was wrong after he attempted broken English in a Chinese accent.
Mr Martin apologised to anyone he had offended.
"I made a comment this morning in a manner which I shouldn't have," the leader said.
"I was making a serious point about how Ireland is seen in the world as a leader in software.
"If anyone was in any way offended, I of course apologise."
Mr Martin made the ill-judged remarks at a breakfast meeting of the Dublin Web Summit, where he was asked to outline his party's innovation policy.
He recalled a trade mission to China, and Ireland's reputation in the Far East in the software sector.
Discussing the positive impression of Irish IT and technology firms, he said of ministers and officials in China: "They kept on saying to me, 'You Irish very good at software'."
Mr Martin's remarks prompted a large amount of debate online.
During one of the then minister's trade and diplomatic mission's to China last May he said Chinese should become a Leaving Cert subject.