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'I brought to the fore something that was there already': Presidential Candidate Peter Casey stands by his comments on Travellers

Casey has said he’ll take a long time “probably until lunchtime” to decide what to do next.

Peter Casey speaks to the media at the convention centre, Dublin.
Peter Casey speaks to the media at the convention centre, Dublin.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Oct 27th 2018, 10:13 AM

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PETER Casey has said he regrets he didn’t come down harder on Travellers’ representative body Pavee Point during the election campaign. 

The counting of votes began at 9am this morning, with President Michael D Higgins expected to be re-elected to the Áras later today. 

Speaking to Newstalk’s Pat Kenny  this morning Casey said: 

I regret not coming down harder on Martin Collins he’s the person responsible for showing leadership at Pavee Point. 

During the campaign Casey had denied Travellers should have ethnic status, and accused the population of “camping on other people’s land” amongst other controversial comments

The issue arose following a dispute between Tipperary County Council and a small number of travellers over new housing in the area

Casey defended his remarks when speaking with Kenny this morning: 

I brought to the fore something that was there already.

Responding to Casey’s comments to TheJournal.ie Martin Collins has said he totally rejects Casey’s comments:
“I am jubilant that Michael D Higgins has been re-elected as a President who has symbolised inclusion equality and respect during his term in office.”
“The people have spoken and said racism division and hatred have no place in the Irish democratic process. It will not be tolerated.”
An exit poll from RTÉ shows Casey has secured 20% of the vote in the wake of his remarks during the campaign. Opinion polls taken before the comments had placed the former Dragon’s Den star on just 2%. 

Collins said it is “extremely difficult to quantify how much of the vote that Casey has secured is down to his anti-traveller sentiment”. 
His comments are not befitting of Presidential Office. 
The Pavee Point spokesperson said he has “represented his community at national and international level for several decades and will continue to do so”.

Asked by Kenny what he intends to do after the Presidential election, Casey said he would take some time to think before making his next move:

We’re going to take quite a long time, probably till lunchtime to decide what to do next.

Addressing reporters at the Convention Centre in Dublin this morning Casey claimed had he been elected he was “going to invite all travellers to move into the Phoenix Park for five years”.

In an interview with RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Casey called on the Government to do more to help people get on the housing ladder. Casey said he “pointed out that people in middle Ireland are tired, there’s no way to get on the housing ladder, it’s getting worse”.

Refusing to comment on whether or not he’ll run for political office again, Casey said he hopes to do something where he feels he can make a real difference. 

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