Monday 10 December 2018

Peter Casey suspends campaign for presidency following controversial Traveller comments

Media scrum: Presidential candidate Peter Casey visiting the houses at Cabragh Bridge in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Photo: Mark Condren
Media scrum: Presidential candidate Peter Casey visiting the houses at Cabragh Bridge in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Photo: Mark Condren

Kevin Doyle and Nicola Anderson

Peter Casey has suspended his candidacy for the presidency of Ireland in light of the controversy over his comments about Travellers.

The businessman has issued a statement this morning in which he says he is “taking the weekend off from the campaign to think carefully about whether to continue in the race”.

It came as Michael D Higgins suggest a “very cynical” move to pick on Travellers in a bid to boost his poll figures.

The controversy arose after Mr Casey’s appearance on Independent.ie’s ‘Floating Voter’ podcast.

He claimed that Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic minority because they are “basically people camping on someone else’s land”.

The millionaire added that they don’t pay their fair share of taxes in society.

Having doubled down on his comment in recent days, he now says: “I do not want the people of Ireland to elect me as President of Ireland just based on one statement I made.

“I want to be of service, and make a real difference. I have the expertise and ability to be an influencer. I want to connect people, at home and abroad.

“I know that my world experience and global views will make me a uniquely suitable candidate for President of Ireland – with drive, ability and energy.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, Mr Casey said if he had known his election campaign was “going to come this way I wouldn’t have run”.

He said his platform was supposed to focus on rural Ireland and immigration.

Mr Casey denied his comments about Travellers were part of a cynical stunt

And he said that if he does pull out of the race “Joan [Freeman] would be my preferred choice”.

“It’s not right that people – you’ve politicians accusing me of being a racist it’s just wrong,” he said.

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