The journalist who was sacked by the Sunday Times after writing a column that repeated an antisemitic slur has insisted he has huge respect for Jews, calling them “the most gifted people on the planet”.
Kevin Myers also acknowledged that had been “foolish” in the way he had written about Jews and money.
Speaking for the first time since the publication of his column suggesting that BBC presenters Claudia Winkelman and Vanessa Feltz earned high salaries because they were Jewish, he said: “My Jewish audience will understand that I am a great admirer of Jewish people.
“I think they are the most gifted people who have ever existed on this planet and civilisation owes an enormous debt to them”.
"One of the great qualities about them is their sense of dignity and self-worth. The only way that can be expressed in the world of celebrity is getting the right financial package -you don't know how long celebrity is going to last.
"I foolishly referred to their religion as being a motivator, I actually think there is a good article to be had about that but it's not to be done in a throwaway line, that will not be understood."
Speaking on RTE Radio One in Ireland, Mr Myers said he was "very, very sorry" for offending Ms Feltz and Ms Winkleman.
He said: “I am very very sorry to them, I really mean it, I'm not rescuing anything as far as I can see, it's over for me.
"I am issuing an apology for no other reason than contrition of the hurt I have caused them.
"I said those words out of respect for their religion."
Asked if he believed that women are inferior to men, Mr Myers added: “You might come to that conclusion - if I thought that then I'd be an idiot.”
Mr Myers also said he believed that "five or six" other people would have seen the column before it went to print in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times - but that he doesn't believe anyone else should lose their job.
He also clarified why he mentioned the presenters being Jewish in the piece and said that it could merit a future article.
He said: "I do [accept it shouldn't have been written], I have many flaws, one of my flaws is to deal with major issues with throwaway lines.
"I did that with regard to the two women whom I identified within the BBC hierarchy who are particularly well rewarded.”
Several members of the Jewish community have spoken out in support of Mr Myers.
Maurice Cohen, chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, insisted Mr Myers was not antisemitic, and had “inadvertently stumbled into an antisemitic trope”.
Ms Feltz has said she was “horrified” and “extremely upset” by Mr Myers’s article