Tuesday 21 May 2019

Peter Casey hardens his message and insists he'll still take seat

Optimistic: Peter Casey, who is running in the European election. Photo: David Conachy
Optimistic: Peter Casey, who is running in the European election. Photo: David Conachy

Kevin Doyle and Robin Schiller

Presidential runner-up Peter Casey still believes he will become an MEP, despite trailing in the European election polls.

The Donegal man has targeted the seat of Luke 'Ming' Flanagan in the Midlands North-West constituency - but was 7pc behind the ex-TD in the latest poll.

But Mr Casey, who got more than 300,000 first preferences in October's presidential election, believes his messages are resonating.

"I was down in Ballyhaunis. People were parking the car and coming over. It's bonkers. It really is. I'm pretty certain I'm going to top the poll," he said.

Mr Casey's platform is largely built around the issue of immigration, which he claims Ireland is only waking up to.

Having initially said the country needs "a discussion" on the issue, he has now told the Irish Independent restrictions need to be imposed on the number of people coming here from abroad.

"When Britain leaves [the EU] there is absolutely no way that Ireland can be the recipient of all the people that wanted to go to Britain. We will be the only English speaking country," he said.

Malta is also an English speaking country in the EU.

The businessman said Ireland should apply to the EU to "temporarily" close our borders until the fallout from Brexit is clear.

"This is exceptional circumstances... The only option they have is Ireland.

"We haven't got the bandwidth. We're just too small."

Mr Casey added that in the "long term" Ireland can support a greater population "but we can't handle a sudden influx".

If the ex 'Dragons' Den' investor is to get elected in the Midlands North-West constituency he will have to up his vote in the final two weeks of campaigning. An 'Irish Times'/Ipsos MRBI poll places him in a contest for the final seat with Fine Gael's Maria Walsh and Fianna Fáil's Brendan Smith.

Meanwhile, in Dublin there is set to be an intense contest among left-wing candidates for the final seat.

Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald and Fianna Fáil's Barry Andrews are on target to easily win seats.

But the third seat will see a battle between Sinn Féin's Lynn Boylan, Independents4Change Clare Daly, the Green Party's Ciaran Cuffe and Labour's Alex White.

Ms Boylan, who topped the poll five years ago, said it is "all to play for".

Mr White said Fine Gael's showing in the poll was "impressive" but he's not sure "if it will hold up".

"I think that it would require an enormous effort from Fine Gael to get two seats, I think they'll comfortably gain one.

"On those poll numbers Fianna Fail will win a seat. And that leaves two seats, and I'm in the race for one of those seats, no question about that in my mind."

Ms Fitzgerald told an AEJ debate that she was remaining cautious.

"Not a vote has been cast yet so that's what I'd been reminding everybody," she said.

Irish Independent

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