Casey hits the mark in Kerry

Sinead Kelleher and Simon Brouder

Controversial candidate Peter Casey, who was branded a racist for his comments about the Travelling community during the presidential election campaign, received huge backing in north Kerry and West Limerick.

In several ballot boxes in Abbeyfeale, Rathkeale and Askeaton - all areas that have a higher than average proportion of Travellers, according to CSO figures - he actually out-polled Michael D Higgins. Meanwhile in Kerry, Mr Casey won over 30 per cent of the vote in many boxes in the wider Castleisland area, as well as in Listowel, Knocknagoshel and Abbeyfeale.

The results suggest that Mr Casey's stance on the Travelling Community resonated with voters  in areas where Travellers make up a larger proportion of the population. In the wake of the election, Fianna Fáil Councillor Michael Cahill - who was himself criticised over comments about Travellers - said he would like to see his party speak with Mr Casey. 

"They had no right to close the door in his face. At the very least he deserved a hearing. One in four voted for him, that can't be ignored. They are in no position to refuse him," he said.  He added that he did not think Mr Casey was a racist and that his comments 'touched a nerve'. "If you don't talk about the issue how will it be solved?" he asked.