The Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, has denied he offered to fight a man in a pub in Limerick following a row with Shannon Airport campaigners.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Today with Pat Kenny, the Minister said he did not approach and verbally abuse John Fahey and Geraldine Morrissey, both activists in the region.

Mr O'Dea had been drinking in South's pub in Limerick along with the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, on Saturday night.

Both men later left, and Mr O'Dea says he had returned to the pub to collect his wife and was on his way out when he was 'approached in a very aggressive manner about Shannon'.

Minister O'Dea admitted he may have been 'dismissive' and said he may have told the pair to 'get lost, sod off or feck off' but that he did not use stronger language, as was reported in a number of newspapers today.

He said it would be foolish of him to suggest going outside to fight with a man of 6'5" plus, and said this did not happen.

The Minister said if the two people involved were upset, he apologised for engaging with them. However, he denied abusing them and said the coverage of the matter had been extremely unfair' to him.