Booker Prize winning author Anne Enright yesterday said that she " deeply regrets" the timing of the controversial article she wrote about the Maddy McCann case for the London Review of Books.
But she said that she "didn't want to talk about it because the fate of a child is much more important than any literary prize".
In the lengthy article, which appeared in the literary magazine in London on October 4, Enright mused about doctors, about sedating children, about carrying the dead weight of a child, about the mechanical language used by Gerry McCann after Maddy's disappearance and about Kate McCann's apparent lack of emotion about her missing daughter.
Enright also talked about how her own feelings towards the McCanns and their story swayed one way and then the other. But crucially, at the end of the piece, she said that she ended up liking the McCanns.
Enright said yesterday in a written statement:
"I deeply regret the timing of the piece, which meant that two media circuses -- the one that follows the Man Booker and the one that follows the McCanns -- got tangled up.
"The piece talked about the extraordinary emotions people went through when leaks and allegations started to come from the Portuguese investigation, but the most important line is the last one, when, after all my night thoughts and imaginings, I say: 'I wake, human again, liking the McCanns'.
"If anyone wants to read the piece in full, please do so -- it is available online at www.lrb.co.uk.
But I don't especially want to talk about it, because I think the fate of a child is much more important than any literary prize, and the two topics don't sit well together."
Apart from issuing her written statement she would not comment further on the row over the article.
In literary circles in Dublin yesterday, the view was that in the article Enright had teased out and confronted many of the points that people were saying in private but would not say in public.
The article also showed a writer examining the language used by people under unbearable stress (the McCanns) and it was a legitimate exercise in that respect, one author said, but the timing was unfortunate, given her Booker win this week.
The fact that Enright was a surprise winner in the Man Booker may also have been a factor. This is the second time in three years that an Irish writer has won the Booker, and that may have caused some resentment in the British press.
Comparisons have been made with what happened when John Banville won in 2005 and a vitriolic campaign against his book then started in some of the British papers.
It was also noted that although the article appeared two weeks ago, there was not a whiff of controversy about it until Enright won the Booker on Tuesday night.
At that point, someone dug up the most controversial quotes and put them together out of context into a report that would be as damaging as possible for Enright.