Calls for Limerick councillors to explain Peter Casey nomination after ‘racist’ comments

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Nominated by Limerick councillors: Peter Casey

Nominated by Limerick councillors: Peter Casey

A LIMERICK Fine Gael councillor believes Peter Casey is pandering to the right wing in a bid to boost his presidential election campaign.

Councillor Michael Sheahan seconded the Derry businessman’s nomination to contest this Friday’s presidential election.

It paved the way for his name being put on the ballot paper, with neighbouring Tipperary County Council being the fourth decisive authority to nominate him.

Mr Casey has been roundly criticised for several comments he has made about Traveller ethnicity.

He initially described Travellers as people who just were “camping” on other people’s land, a view he has doubled down upon.

Now, questions are being asked of Limerick’s councillors who nominated him for a tilt at the highest office in the lane.

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”.

“It was a strange comment. I honestly believe his advisors might have told him to go at it like Donald Trump did. He has already received a lift in the polls as a result. I think he has gone right wing to try and give himself a boost. It’s a popular view with people. I’m not sure if it’s a personal view of his, but it’s totally wrong,” Cllr Sheahan told the Limerick Leader.

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 Fail 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.”

The Green Party in Limerick has attempted to do just that, messaging the various party councillors on the social network site Twitter to ask if they share Mr Casey’s views.

So far, none have responded.

Labour’s northside candidate Conor Sheehan said: “The comments are both racist and dangerous. It should be clear in 2018 that racism will not be tolerated. The rate of male suicide in the Travelling community is six times higher than the national average”.

Cllr Sheahan says he doesn’t think there is any member of Limerick City and County Council who would share Mr Casey’s views.

Mr Casey is up against incumbent president Michael D Higgins, Senator Joan Freeman, Liadh Ni Riada, Sean Gallagher and Gavin Duffy in Friday’s election.