Belfast Telegraph

Irish presidential hopeful Casey backtracks on support for Philippine's Rodrigo Duterte

By Cormac McQuinn

Presidential hopeful Peter Casey has back-tracked from a tweet in which he expressed support for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial drugs clampdown.

Derry-born Peter Casey is a former investor on the Irish edition of Dragons' Den and, as a millionaire, has promised not to take the €1.7m salary offered for the seven-year term.

Mr Duterte has been criticised by human rights organisations amid allegations of extra-judicial killings and more than 7,000 deaths in his "war on drugs" in the first six months of his presidency.

Businessman and former Dragons' Den star Mr Casey said last night that he does not remember sending the 2016 Twitter post and insisted he "abhors" Mr Duterte's policies.

In September 2016, the Philippines leader saw a meeting with Barack Obama cancelled after he made personal insults against the then US president.

Mr Obama had warned he would raise the issue of extrajudicial killings at the meeting. Mr Duterte later apologised.

In the following days, Mr Casey tweeted: "Totally support Philippine President Duterte clamping down on drug dealers but he should not have apologised to Obama."

Mr Casey confirmed through a spokesperson that the @CaseyPeterJ Twitter account where the post appears is his.

"Can I say, categorically, that this is not how I feel about President Duterte or Barack Obama," he said.

"I have no recollection of making this tweet two years ago but I have to take responsibility for it if it's up there on my account.

"I do think that drugs are a curse in our society but, genuinely, I abhor Duterte's policy of using his police as vigilantes."

He said he knows "little or nothing" about Mr Duterte and certainly would not support the policies that have been criticised by human rights groups.

Mr Casey added: "I think Barack Obama is a very good and decent man."

Meanwhile, Gavin Duffy is favourite to scoop the first local authority nomination to contest the presidential election.

Meath County Council is set to vote today on whether to support a nomination.

Mr Duffy, who lives in the county, is strongly tipped to get its backing through a combination of votes from Independent and Fine Gael councillors.

President Michael D Higgins can nominate himself, but challengers must win the support of four local authorities or 20 Oireachtas members.

Mr Duffy was among eight potential candidates who made a pitch to Meath County Council last week.

Irish Independent

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