Peter Casey and Helen Casey at RTÉ Television studios on Tuesday
Readers of Iconic Newspapers websites, which include the Limerick Leader, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of Peter Casey in a Presidential Election Poll that has been running over the past few days.
Websites in the group include: limerickleader.ie; kilkennypeople.ie; leinsterexpress.ie; offalyexpress.ie; leinsterleader.ie; longfordleader.ie; leitrimobserver.ie; donegaldemocrat.ie; tipperarystar.ie; nationalist.ie; dundalkdemocrat.ie; carlowlive.ie and waterfordlive.ie.
Almost 10,500 votes were cast in the Presidential Election poll that ran on all 13 websites, including the Leader, in the Iconic Newspaper group, with Peter Casey winning the overall poll with 51.2% of the votes cast.
At a special meeting last month, Fine Gael councillor Michael Sheahan seconded Mr Casey’s nomination after being proposed by Fianna Fail’s member in Newcastle West Michael Collins.
Asked if he would have seconded him had he known Mr Casey’s views on Irish Travellers, Cllr Sheahan said: “No, simple as that”.
…Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville, who did not nominate a candidate and abstained in the vote, said:
“I think all those councillors, particularly those in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil need to come out and nail their colours to the mast and say this is not acceptable. What he is trying to do is whip up hatred, fear and prejudice.”
Presidential hopeful Peter Casey spoke to Áine Lawlor – in light of his announcement that he will be taking a break from the campaign this weekend to consider whether or not he will continue to run for president.
His name is already on the ballot.
The decision to take a break follows criticism of him saying he didn’t believe Travellers should get ethnic minority status – despite this passing in May of last year.
And he made further comments about Travellers in Thurles, Co Tipperary where a number of families from the Travelling community are refusing to move into newly built homes because of a dispute with Tipperary County Council.
A statement from the Travelling families involved about the matter can be read here.
During this afternoon’s radio, following a visit to the location of the homes yesterday, Mr Casey said: “There’s not a racist bone in my body.”
From the News At One interview…
Mr Casey started out saying the past 48 hours had been “strange to say the least”.
Peter Casey: “I’ve been accused of being a racist. This is just absolutely not what my campaign is about. I’m going to take the weekend and I’m going to reflect on it and I’m going to talk to my family and my wife and my children and my advisors and I’ll make a decision on Monday as to what’s the right thing to do.”
“I mean I promised my mother I was going to stand years ago for the presidency of Ireland. She would not want to me to stand if I was going to get elected on this platform. That is not what I’m about.
“You know I feel very passionate that there is things that need to be done, like, for example, I set up my business in Buncrana and, you know, it’s just…
Áine Lawlor: “All right..”
Casey: “It’s, you know, it’s just so wrong…”
Lawlor: “Ok, let’s take this step by step because you seem quite upset. Are you?”
Casey: “I am, yes.”
Lawlor: “Were you surprised by the reaction to your remarks about Travellers in Cabra and Thurles.”
Casey: “You know, I was surprised beyond belief. I thought we’d got way beyond this. I didn’t even realise that there had been this law passed last year giving special ethnic status to…”
Lawlor: “You didn’t know that Travellers were recognised in Irish law? Under Irish law?”
Casey: “I didn’t. I hadn’t realised that.”
Lawlor: “That this is a conversation and indeed a campaign that had been waged a long time and it had come up several times over several…”
Casey: “There’s so many things that have been going on. I’ve been, as you know, it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve moved back full time to Ireland so it’s…”
Lawlor: “So you didn’t realise what you were getting into when you said that?”
Casey: “No idea. I thought we were way beyond that. We are such a melting pot of different cultures, nationalities, you know, we’ve got so many, we’ve got 120,000 Polish people here, we’ve got African people, people from Africa, people from all over, you know, all over the world. All these different nationalities now proudly call Ireland their home. And I thought we were beyond…The Proclamation says ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’….
Lawlor: “Well a lot of people thought we were way beyond, as a nation, having Travellers singled out by any candidate who…”
Casey: “That’s wrong…”
Lawlor: “And pitting them against the homeless in Dublin?”
Casey: “I wasn’t pitting them against the homeless in Ireland. I was pointing out the absurdity of these amazing houses sitting there empty because people were demanding that they would be given stables and an acre of land….”
Lawlor: “But you didn’t afford the Travellers of Cabra, they said, afterwards, and they were upset. You’re upset that they were upset because you didn’t meet them.”
Casey: “That is absolutely not true. It was well known that I was coming down there. I announced I was coming down there to meet with them, to meet with Martin Collins. And I announced that I was coming down. I went down there with my wife and we stood there for 15 minutes or so, answered questions, they all, there were literally 25/30 yards across the road….”
Lawlor: “Were those people, people whose votes you are seeking, were they not entitled to the courtesy, particularly when you, as a candidate were using all the attention that comes with being a candidate, to highlight this issue and their dispute with the council. Were they not entitled to the courtesy of the candidate at least coming up and saying, face to face, ‘do you know what? Here’s my problem. And here, as president, is why, how I would like to address it.”
Casey: “I felt it was inappropriate for me to go over. There was like 25 to 30 cameraman there. I felt it would have been invasive…”
Lawlor: “Your office could have said something …”
Casey: “They knew I was there, they knew I was 30 yards away…”
Lawlor: “And they knew what you’d said about them…”
Casey: “And I waited for them, I waited for them to come over, I said ‘they know I’m here’. There was two police cars at either side, the road was [inaudible], everybody knew I was there. And then I went up to the Hayes Hotel and a councillor John Cross came up and said ‘I think you should go back down’ and I said, cause they’re holding, they waited until I left before they came out with their placards and then held a press conference, they waited until I drove off. They timed it…”
Lawlor: “Was that not the right of any citizen of this Republic to protest?”
Casey: “It is but you then can’t say that I didn’t go to meet them, I did go to meet them. And I then went…”
Lawlor: “But it was up to them to approach you?”
Casey: “It would have been wrong for me to go and knock on their door with a whole world of interviewers and they were actually, you know, aggressive, some of them. One of them was actually quite rude to me. And I felt…I then went to the Hayes Hotel and invited them to come up. Margaret Casey, ironically, is one of the leaders, and the councillor contacted her and said ‘look, Peter’s here, he’s absolutely happy to sit here and wait for you to come up and meet with him’. And she declined the offer. And I said ‘I’ll go down and see here anytime she wants to meet with me, I’m prepared to talk’.”
Lawlor: “There are many people in the Travelling community Peter Casey who, from the debate the other night, right through what happened in Thurles, they find the way you have been talking, the way you have been describing the Traveller community is racist.”
Casey: “I grew up in Derry when you couldn’t get a job when you were Catholic, you were discriminated against because you were Catholic, that was one of reasons I left. It’s one of the reasons I left. I’m so conscious of the evil of discrimination, of bigotry and of racism. I, there’s not a racist bone in my body. And I really, I find it…”
Lawlor: “Maybe not intentionally but do you understand that you could have caused that offence to a group of people who do see you language and they way that you have been dealing with this issue and this campaign as racist? Do you understand that?”
Casey: “No I don’t. Because I’m not a racist…”
Lawlor: “And for Michael D Higgins talks about the lower life expectancy, and the greater mental health problems, the greater health problems, this is a community that has lost out and loses out by every indication going on this society.
Casey: “And I, that is totally, totally wrong that that is the case. But the way to cure the problem is not to sort of make them feel like they’re special and they’re different, the way is to help them feel that they’re included. That they are as Irish as I am. I got a lift to the…”
Lawlor: “And you think standing outside empty houses and calling the people ‘bonkers’ and…”
Casey: “No I didn’t…”
Lawlor: “Do you think that helps?”
Casey: “I did not call the people bonkers. I called the council…”
Lawlor: “Called the dispute bonkers.”
Casey: “I called the dispute, I said the whole thing is bonkers, it’s wrong. That there are people sleeping on the streets in Dublin, you know.”
Lawlor: “You say you’re reconsidering, do you regret running?”
Casey: “At the moment, I’m considering yes. If I had known it was going to come this way, I probably wouldn’t have run because this is not. My platform was to, you know, I’m all about rural Ireland. We have got a tragedy going on in rural Ireland, people are leaving rural Ireland and now because Dublin is so expensive, they can’t afford to go to Dublin, the only option is to go to England which that option might be ruled out if Brexit goes the wrong way. People are leaving…”
Lawlor: “And you seem genuinely distressed in front of me here but there are people who are thinking this is a cynical stunt dreamt up to keep you in the headlines and get you up in the polls over the weekend. Because one way or another, your name is going to be on that ballot paper this day week. People will have to decide themselves whether to vote for you or not.”
Casey: “Well they can’t vote for me if I’m not in the race. So..”
Lawlor: “Your name will be on the ballot paper.”
Casey: “Yeah but they won’t vote for me, if I step down, I’ll encourage them to not vote for me.”
Lawlor: “Will you ask them to endorse Joan Freeman?”
Casey: “Joan would probably be my preferred choice of the other candidates yeah.”
Lawlor: “And when will you know?”
Casey: “I’m going to talk to my family this weekend. I’m going to talk and spend time with my wife and the children. And my advisors and then, you know, at the moment I’m just, we’ll work things out over the weekend and discuss with the family and then make a decision and, you know, there’s…”
Lawlor: “However upset you are now and this must be…we have seen, you know, previous campaigns, previous candidates, people like Mary Banotti, Adi Roche, Gay Mitchell, they’ve all felt, for different reasons and in different ways and in different times, they’ve all felt exactly how horrible a presidential campaign can be for the candidate. On the other hand, are you not showing, one week to go to polling day, your name will be on the ballot paper, are you not showing that you’re a man who fundamentally doesn’t have the temperament to do the job?”
Casey: “That’s the complete opposite. I’m so passionate about making a difference. I’m passionate about…you look at what’s going on in rural Ireland. We should have gone with 4G straight off the bat. Every home in Ireland would have 20-25 megabyte. You know, and we’d have four bars on our cellphones.”
Lawlor: “Are you a wealthy man who’s chasing a dream here and you’ve come up against reality?”
Casey: “There’s nothing wrong with chasing a dream but this is, this is wrong when you’re accusing people of being something they’re not. And it’s not right that people, and you’ve got, you know, politicians jumping on and accusing me of being a racist, I mean it’s just wrong.”
Lawlor: “Well [Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar spoke about divisive remarks designed to get attention for you and your campaign. I mean you are getting the attention. Those remarks are divisive.”
Casey: “I’ve said and it’s in the Proclamation, we should cherish all the children of the nation equally. What’s racist about that? What’s racist about saying that you should treat everyone equally. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t think you should specify any group, any ethnic group at all. The taxi driver the other day was from Pakistan and I said to him ‘are there many Pakistani people in Dublin?’. He said, ‘oh yeah’, he said ‘there’s a large community’. And I said, ‘Would you like to be deemed as an ethnic group?’. He said, ‘no, of course not, we’re Irish. My children, they all speak with Dublin accents’. You know, I mean, they’re proud to be Irish, they’ve made Ireland their home and they don’t want to me, he felt it would be an insult to make them a different group because they’re Irish.”
Leo Varadkar on Peter Casey's traveller remarks: "His remarks were very divisive and largely designed to get attention for him and his campaign, and I think that’s really regrettable, and I hope when people go out to vote next Friday they will give him that message
Peter Casey: “I don’t believe travellers should be given special status. I mean why should they be given special status over and above yourself or myself. You know?”
Kevin Doyle: “They are seen as a minority ethnicity.”
Peter Casey: “That’s a load of nonsense. You know. They’re not Romaning, Romanie, whatever, they’re not from Romany area.
They’re basically people that are camping on somebody else’s land. Imagine the poor farmer whose land that they camped on, you know, and who’d buy the land from him?
The neighbours in the houses all around, do you think they’re going, ‘this is great for my property value because I’ve now got three dozen caravans down the road’, you know. It’s just wrong, you know.
Somebody needs to sit up and say this is nonsense. And here we are are giving them luxurious houses and they’re turning them down because they want stables but they know that nobody else will move into the house, you see.
Can you imagine the brave person that would go, in Dublin that would go ‘I’d love a lovely four-bedroom house with solar panels and beautifully kitted-out kitchens’?’
Do you think they’d move in past all the travellers that are sitting out there waiting, watching them…not going to happen. They’re afraid of them.”
Presidential hopeful Peter Casey, speaking to Kevin Doyle of the Irish Independent on the paper’s podcast, ‘The Floating Voter’.
Casey's comments aren't just offensive, they're historically illiterate. Traveller culture embodies Irish heritage more than settled culture—as any Presidential candidate should know. He should also know he's repeating verbatim English insults about Irish:https://t.co/y6ELRl7kdw
Presidential hopeful Peter Casey spoke to Dr Gavin Jennings on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland in what became a somewhat challenging interview for the candidate.
Dr Jennings began asking Mr Casey why he believes people should vote for him on October 26…
Peter Casey: “Of all the candidates that are in the field, there isn’t a candidate that has got my international experience. I have a deep understanding of the whole Northern Ireland situation, obviously, been born in Northern Ireland.
“I was part of the Good Friday Peace Delegation to the White House that ended up with the team that, sorry, that discussed and ended up making the recommendations that essentially ended up with the Good Friday Peace Agreement.
“I’ve, more than any other candidate, I’ve lived a third of my life in Australia, a third in America, a third in Ireland. You know. I’ve got a deep understanding of what it means to actually be an Irish person who had to go abroad. You know, so. That’s what we need in the presidency.”
Dr Gavin Jennings: “You’ve been 38 years abroad, what makes you more qualified to be president than the other candidates?”
Casey: “As I said, I really, we have got, as a country, we’re just, there’s no other country like Ireland. We have got 10 times the number of people living outside of the country. A third of the people actually born in Ireland have now moved out of Ireland – 1.5million people have moved out of Ireland. And I was one of those people. I’m fortunate enough to be able to come back but as president, I’d be able to understand how to connect with them in a very meaningful way, for the benefit of people in Ireland.
“So , one of my platforms is to encourage the Irish abroad to send children over to Ireland for a month so they can understand really what it means…”
Jennings: “At their expense, yes?”
Casey: “Of course, of course, at their expense. And it would be to the benefit of Ireland. Cause there would be a lot of tourism, they’d spend a couple of weeks in the Gaeltacht, a week up in the North, up in Derry, up in Belfast, understanding the Troubles. And then a week down in Dublin, understanding the history of the Irish State. You know. So.”
Jennings: “You’ve spoken about connecting Ireland with its diaspora with technology. What are you proposing exactly?”
Casey: “Yeah, well I would go to tender and ask all the big social media companies to tender. And the bid would start at a billion dollars and I’d say, ‘look we’ve got about 80 million people, we want to really connect in a meaningful way’ and, you know, it would be a platform which would be managed and controlled by the Government, in a similar way to the Federal Reserve Bank. The Federal Reserve Bank is not owned by the US Government but it’s managed, controlled and regulated by it. This platform managed, controlled, regulated by the Irish Government…”
Jennings: “To do what?”
Casey: “To actually connect with the Irish but it would also…”
Jennings: “But I can contact my sister by FaceTime at the moment?”
Casey: “Of course…”
Jennings: “What are you talking about?”
Casey: “This would be a platform for the Irish small businesses to help marketing their products to the Irish abroad so they could actually monetise that, sell the products to the Irish abroad. Everyone abroad loves getting Irish presents, it’s lovely way to, if you’re giving a gift, you’ll go on and see, make it a personalised, Irish present for them.”
Jennings: “And as president you would lead this, yes?”
Casey: “A president is allowed, under the constitution, of course, he’s not allowed to get involved in Government policy but what he is allowed to do is to inspire and motivate other people to actually get involved and do these sorts of programmes. Yes.”
Jennings: “Just to come back to issues at home to get your views on what’s happening here. We’ve a homelessness crisis at the moment. Do you believe that Irish people should have a constitutional right to a home?”
Casey: “I believe that we’ve a right, as a wealthy country, we have a, we are relatively wealthy. We have the responsibility to look after those who are not able to look after themselves. I don’t think it should be a God-given right that the Government just gives you a home. Nobody actually gave me or my parents or any of my family members a home. But we have a responsibility to look after those who are not able to look after themselves.”
Casey: “By giving them accommodation if that’s what it takes. I think absolutely free education. I believe that healthcare, it should be paid for…”
Jennings: “The issue of housing, I mean, we’ve 10,000 homeless people at the moment. What would you suggest is the solution there?”
Casey: “The housing problem didn’t start overnight, it’s been building, and building and building and the reason for it is there has been an over concentration in the major areas such as Dublin, Cork and Galway and a complete lack of building out the infrastructure in rural Ireland.
“One of the things I suggested was that, you know, we should be investing and encouraging companies to set up in the periphery of Dublin. Everybody wants to be in Dublin but we’re now in a situation where people who were born in Dublin, brought up in Dublin, can’t afford to live in Dublin. But the answer is to invest in rural Ireland – to make it so that people can support their families in rural Ireland. One of the things I proposed was to give a €3,000-€4000 grant, sorry tax break for people who are doing the reverse commute.
“You know, everybody is now coming from Wexford, Drogheda, Dundalk, into Dublin. And Dublin is overheated. If we were to give people an incentive to go and find employment in the rural, peripheral areas, that would encourage companies to set up there because they know they’ll be able to get the talent.
“At the moment, there’s a huge shortage of talent in Dublin.”
“You know, actually, one of the more extreme suggestions was that we put a ban on hiring in Dublin, in the technology centre, except for replacement. In other words, Microsoft announced that they were creating, and the minister announced it, 250 new jobs. They’re not new jobs. What they’re going to do is they’re going to borrow the people from the 250 people will come from other companies in Dublin.
“And I’ll be sitting over at Microsoft trying to find these people. I’ll go and I’ll offer a job to somebody from Accenture and they’ll go ‘Oh no, I’m quite happy here’. ‘Ok, well we’ll give you 20 per cent more if you move to Microsoft’. They go to Microsoft, then there’s a gap over in Accenture. Accenture go over and say ‘Ok, we need to fill this’. They come to me, I’m over, working over at Google. They say ‘over here’ and ‘no, I’m very happy at Google’. They say ‘we’ll give you 20 per cent extra’. What’s happening is, it’s musical chairs going upwards and upwards and that’s what’s causing, the landlords look around and say ‘we can charge more rent. And then what happens is that pushes people off the bottom of the rental ladder.”
Jennings: “I heard you quoted recently saying that you couldn’t understand why people who were homeless, who were being put up in hotels would complain about being put up in hotels.”
Casey: “Yeah, I mean, the ridiculous situation down in Cork where the Travellers were refusing four-bedroomed houses because they weren’t being given stables with them. I mean you’ve got to step back and ask yourself. I mean when did…”
Jennings: “Where was that? Sorry?”
Casey: “I think it was in Cork wasn’t it? They had built these four-bedroomed houses and they were saying….”
Jennings: “I think it was in County Tipperary.”
Casey: “Tipperary? I’ve been on the road a lot and I’ve been getting soundbites but they turned down houses because they didn’t have stables. I mean, that’s, where, where are we going to with this? It’s just nonsense.”
Jennings: “‘I’m still trying to work my mind around why people complain about being put up in a hotel’ – I think is the quote attributed to you.”
Casey: “I may have said something along, I mean, there’s people being put up in hotels and I think that’s sad when we’re at the situation where we can’t…that’s just a symptom of the problem though. The problem is lack of investment in rural Ireland. And Dublin is overheated and we haven’t got the ability…You we’re obviously starting now to build high-rise buildings, we’re starting to get involved in lower cost houses. In, for example, in America, they’ve timber frame houses in a matter of months. Whereas over here, they’re all brick and concrete houses…takes far too much time.”
Jennings: “Let’s move on. Are you a feminist?”
Casey: “I’m very much. I’ve got three amazing, very strong-willed daughters. An amazing strong-willed wife. So I’m a big supporter of obviously. And my CEO of my company of 20 of the last 23 years were women. So.”
Jennings: “What’s the biggest impression of women currently do you believe?”
Casey: “I think it’s amazing now that there’s no bar whatsoever to what women can achieve. And there will be a woman president of the United States, you know, in the next probably ten years. I’ve absolutely no doubt. So I think, you know…”
Jennings: “Do you support the #MeToo movement?”
Casey: “You know absolutely. I think that anything that highlights sexual discrimination in the workplace or in society should be supported.”
Jennings: “How much are you worth?”
Casey: “Lots, lots. [laughs]. I’ve no idea. How much is a private company worth? It’s worth what somebody will pay for it you know? I own one home up in Donegal and I’ve got some business interests there but, you know, I’m comfortable. I’m able to pay my children’s school fees. And we’re financially fine.”