Peter Casey back in race but sparks fresh row
Controversial Irish presidential election candidate Peter Casey is set to ramp up his campaign today after a wobble over the backlash to his comments about the Travelling community.
However the Londonderry-born businessman is at the centre of fresh criticism over his suggestion that Ireland has become a “welfare state”.
Irish Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty accused the former Dragons’ Den star of “breathtaking ignorance”.
Writing an open letter in the Sunday Independent, Mr Casey took aim at what he sees as the Republic becoming a “nation of people who expect, no, demand, that the State looks after them”.
However, he has backtracked on his previous stance that Travellers should not be recognised as a distinct ethnic minority. Denying that his remarks were racist, he admitted he did not know the State had formally recognised Travellers as an ethnic minority when he dismissed the status as “nonsense”.
He claimed he decided not to pull out of the race after a swell of support from people over the weekend. He will meet his team today to discuss his strategy for the final week of the campaign.
Mr Casey could not be reached for comment by his team last night. He attended the Derry County Championship final at Celtic Park, which it is understood was a family commitment.
Ms Doherty called on Mr Casey to clarify his remarks about social welfare in Ireland.
The minister, who is co-ordinating Fine Gael’s campaign for Michael D Higgins’ re-election, called on Mr Casey to outline who he “wants to target for less welfare provision”.