A Fermanagh and Omagh Sinn Féin councillor who told a council official he would “rather have his fingernails pulled with pliers” than nominate local people to the Queen’s Birthday honours list for 2018 has said he has “no regrets” and that he responded that way because he has “no allegiance to the British Royal family."

In his response to an email subject Birthday Honours 2018, Councillor Sheamus Greene wrote: “Sorry I would have no interest in this. To be honest I’d rather have my finger nails pulled with pliers. But everyone to their own.”

His comments sparked anger when revealed earlier this week, with UUP MLA Rosemary Barton claiming he was “insensitive.”

She said: “This barbaric act of having “finger nails pulled with pliers”, was a form of torture used by the terrorist wing of the party that Mr. Greene now represents and the use of this language brings nothing only further hurt to the families of those innocent victims who were kidnapped, tortured and murdered."

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Councillor Greene said: “I feel this way because I have no allegiance to the British Royal family. As a republican I think a head of any State should be elected and not born into privilege. I look to the President of Ireland as the person who represents me as head of state. The British head of state is banned from being a member of my religion. Not many modern western democracies if any discriminate on religious grounds.”

Asked if he regrets his comments, he replied: “No I don’t have regrets. I’m told that this is a free Country with free speech.”

Asked if he recognises that there are many locals from different religions who have been pleased to receive a Queen’s Birthday Honour over the years, he said: “Yes I recognise that there are people with different opinions than myself which is why I said ‘but everyone to their own’.

He added: "This was an internal email which was sent tongue in cheek but someone felt the need to leak it to the Belfast Telegraph. You have to ask the question why.”