Wednesday 13 November 2019

Candidate keeps on playing his games, despite talk of suspending campaign


Protest: Members of the Travelling community protest against Peter Casey at Carbragh Bridge. Photo: PA
Protest: Members of the Travelling community protest against Peter Casey at Carbragh Bridge. Photo: PA
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

There came a point when Peter Casey's eyes began to dart around in a panic-stricken fashion.

He was clearly keen to move from the centre of the media whirlpool surrounding him.

Was it the persistent hard questions the Presidential candidate feared - or was he attempting to dodge a face to face encounter with the Traveller families he had criticised for failing to take up six houses because they had nowhere to keep their horses?

Both situations appeared to carry equal weight as he made his hasty escape from Cabragh Bridge outside Thurles, Co Tipperary.

He was once the 11th hour presidential contender, known only as the third of three Dragons, mistaken by women selling flowers on Dublin's Henry Street as "the fella from Supermacs".

But Casey is now - for better or worse - a household name. His presidential campaign teeters on the brink as he considers his options over the weekend.

Or does it? Is he, perhaps, merely planning golf as he always planned to do, before making a 'spectacular comeback' on Monday?

At the millionaire's campaing launch on October 6, his wife, Helen introduced him as having "intelligence, charm, confidence and a kind and considerate nature".

He assured us that he had "no axe to grind".

His speech had been a confusing mess that focused on "the diaspora" with a bit of national broadband thrown in.

Neither issue, arguably, had the potential to really capture the imagination of the public.

He needed a unique selling-point fast or risk being a non-starter in this six-horse race.

Are the few votes he will seize from a dog-whistle campaign enough to satisfy him or does the Derry expat, long conditioned to American politics, have bigger plans?

At Cabragh Bridge, campaigner Kathleen Sherlock, of Mincéirs Whiden, had hurt in her eyes as she said that "never, even in the worst days" had Travellers been targeted in a presidential campaign.

The Taoiseach and the President have both hit out at Casey for his tactics.

Mr Varadkar was hit with a spiky riposte, including reference to him "being Indian".

In injured tones, Casey claimed he was "surprised beyond belief" at the reaction to his comments about the Travellers. On the face of it, the businessman exudes an air of confusion and pandemonium, but there is a good chance this is a calculated strategy,

He told Cork local radio that he expects support for Michael D to plummet over the next "three to four days".

Has Casey, perhaps, another hand to play before this dirty game runs its course?

Irish Independent

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