Limerick councillor slams 'disgusting' Peter Casey election campaign

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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Limerick councillor slams 'disgusting' Peter Casey  campaign

Cllr Jerome Scanlan: 'Elderly people are feeling vulnerable'

A LIMERICK councillor has branded elements of Peter Casey's presidential campaign as "disgusting" and has hit out at the "despicable" way the candidate singled out the Travelling community.

Fine Gael councillor Jerome Scanlan, who represents West Limerick, says older people feeling a sense of “insecurity” voted for the former Dragon's Den star.

“They are insecure in terms of feeling safe, policing doesn’t exist in rural areas. It is very limited. Elderly people in particular who I believe came out and voted for Peter Casey are vulnerable, and they know they are,” he said.

Cllr Scanlan added of Mr Casey's bid to be president: “Several elements of his campaign were disgusting. One of them I thought particularly bad was when Michael D Higgins was accused of lying by Peter Casey, more than once. I think it was despicable the manner he singled out the Travelling community.”

Shockwaves are still being felt across Limerick following Peter Casey’s better than expected showing in the county in the Presidential election.

From opinion poll ratings of just one and two percent, the businessman surged to claim almost 350,000 votes nationwide – and 23.3% of the first preference vote.

It appears his comments criticising Traveller culture was the key reason for the increase.

In rural county Limerick, the controversial candidate polled at 34% – way above the national figure. He had strong showings in Rathkeale and Askeaton - areas with strong Traveller communities -  with tallies putting him  ahead of polltopper Michael D Higgins at some polling stations.

Speaking on RTE’s The Week in Politics programme this Sunday, Fianna Fail frontbencher Niall Collins said he believes the media gave coverage to Mr Casey “because the public were interested and awakened”.

Mr Casey has since suggestd that he would like to join Fianna Fail, and run for election in Donegal.

But Mr Collins poured cold water on this, saying: “There’s bad news for Peter in the sense that our ticket in Donegal is complete. We have Charlie McConalogue and Pat the Cope Gallagher, our two sitting candidates. Peter would want to realise that you can't just rock up to political parties and think you can get your way.”

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan said people are perhaps associating rural crime with the Traveller community, and using is as an excuse for “racism”.

“If it is that people are concerned about break-ins to their homes which seems to be one of the issues, and there seems to be a putting it together with blaming all Travellers, it’s something we need to call out. People being broken into needs to be treated as an issue, not as an excuse for racism,” she said.

Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan said Mr Casey’s performance must represent “a wake-up call for people”.

“I imagine a lot of people who voted for him would not have seen or heard of him one or two weeks ago., didn’t know who he was. So we need to acknowledge the reasons why people voted for him,” he told Live95FM News.