Presidential candidate Peter Casey has come under fire for remarks he made regarding the recognition of traveller ethnicity.
He described the recognition as ‘a load of nonsense’, and claimed that travellers are ‘basically people that are camping on someone else’s land’ and ‘not paying their fair share of taxes in society’.
Casey has been heavily criticized by the Traveller representative group, Pavee Point, who have described his comments as ‘hugely offensive’ and ‘racist’.
President Michael D. Higgins has condemned Casey’s comments as ‘appalling’, while fellow presidential candidate Gavin Duffy has described them as “reckless and inflammatory and have no place in a campaign for election of First Citizen.”
Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada has been highly vocal in her criticism of Casey, saying “The Travelling community are an integral and historic element of the Irish nation who have faced discrimination and marginalization at the hands of the state and local authorities for many decades.
“They have been demonized and vilified by elements of the media who see Travellers as a handy scapegoat when discussing social problems.
“For anyone seeking public office, let alone that of the nation’s first citizen to engage in lazy, racist stereotyping of any ethnic group is unacceptable.
“As I have stated previously, if elected, I will be seeking to appoint a representative from the Travelling community to the Council of State.
“My platform is for an equal society for women and men, citizens of all abilities and disabilities, settled and Traveller, LGBT and straight, young and old, black and white, Orange and Green. That is the way forward for Ireland in 2018.”
A spokesperson for Mr. Casey has said that he is ‘not available for comment’ and will not be issuing a statement today.