Peter Casey: Travelling community 'poorly represented' by Pavee Point

Presidential candidate Peter Casey has said that the travelling community has been "poorly represented by Pavee Point".

Speaking on the RTÉ Six One news, Mr Casey said his earlier comments were made because the travelling community "refused to take possession" of six houses that had been built at a cost of €1.7m.

He said: "They were sitting empty. The travelling community had refused to take possession of the houses because they wanted to have stables and an acre of land attached to them."

Mr Casey went on to say that the community had been poorly represented by Pavee Point who dispute his claims saying that they wanted the land to rent and that horses were part of the culture of travellers.

"I think they should have gone down to Tipperary and explained to the travelling community there that there are people sleeping in the streets in Dublin, people are homeless in Dublin...

"They left down the travelling community. I believe it showed very poor leadership by Pavee Point.

"They should have gone down there and said you're not looking good here."

Peter Casey is expected to take part in a live debate with other six candidates on Pat Kenny's Big Debate Presidential Election Special on Virgin Media One at 10pm.

Presidential candidate Peter Casey to visit Tipperary traveller accommodation

Update 5.15pm: Presidential Candidate Peter Casey is to visit Traveller accommodation in Tipperary tomorrow.

The house at Cabra Bridges in Thurles were refused by members of the travelling community.

The Presidential candidate has been criticised for describing them as people who are camping on somebody else's land and shouldn't be given special status.

Update 3.30pm: A spokesperson for Peter Casey said he will not be making a statement after he was criticised for making controversial comments about the travelling community.

The Presidential candidate described them as people who are camping on somebody else's land and shouldn't be given special status.

The Irish Traveller movement and Pavee Point have called on Mr Casey to withdraw from the race.

'You're meant to be a president for all the people': Traveller group hits back at 'desperate' Casey

Martin Collins

Latest: A spokesperson for Traveller rights group Pavee Point has said that comments made by presidential candidate Peter Casey were disturbing and disappointing.

Martin Collins has called on Mr Casey to step down after saying that Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic minority and describing them as "basically people that are camping on somebody else's land".

Speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, Mr Collins said: "His comments are not befitting of any person who is a candidate in the election for president of office."

You're meant to be a president for all the people, you are meant to be inclusive.

Mr Collins said that the statements made by the presidential hopeful are bordering on racism.

"This is a desperate measure coming from a desperate man who is doing really really poorly in the polls," said Mr Collins.

"He is ill-informed, ill-advised, his comments are reckless."

Even if Mr Casey were to withdraw his comments, Mr Collins believes that he should step down from the campaign.

"I think at this stage my view and the view of my community is that comments from such a person is not befitting of a person holding presidential office and therefore on that basis we would call for him to withdraw from this election."

You can listen to the full interview with Marin Collins here.

Incumbent Michael D Higgins is favourite to win the race for the presidency when the country goes to the polls in just over a week’s time.

He told RTÉ that Travellers comprised an ethnic minority which experienced discrimination, adding: “I find these views appalling.”

He said they lived an average of 10 years less than the general population, and young Traveller men were six times more likely to take their own lives.

Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ni Riada said stereotyping of any ethnic group was unacceptable.

"The Travelling community are an integral and historic element of the Irish nation who have faced discrimination and marginalisation at the hands of the state and local authorities for many decades.

"They have been demonised and vilified by elements of the media who see Travellers as a handy scapegoat when discussing social problems."

A spokesperson for Peter Casey says that he is not available for comments and will not be issuing a statement.

PA & Digital Desk

Gavin Duffy brands Peter Casey Traveller comments 'reckless and inflammatory'

Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy has responded to comments Peter Casey made about Travellers.

Mr Casey said Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic minority.

Speaking this morning, Mr Duffy said that the comments deeply concerned him calling them "reckless and inflammatory".

He said that Mr Casey should withdraw the comments also said that they had no place in a presidential campaign.

"They reach back into another era which I believed we, as a society and a community, have put well behind us," said Mr Duffy.

"Travellers face many challenges in life, not least in developing and sustaining understanding and acceptance with the settled community.

"Such comments only pitch us back into a time and a dark place that we have long ago left behind. I would ask Mr Casey to withdraw his comments."

Among the comments made by Peter Casey was the claim that the travelling community don't pay their fair share of taxes.

"They get education, they get support and they are not paying their fair share of taxes in society," said Mr Casey.

"They live, by and large it's acknowleged, outside of society. That's why they get their status but, you know, did they put in their tax returns?

"Did they pay their taxes? I think it's just wrong."

Traveller advocacy group Pavee Point have described his comments as "ill informed and offensive" and called for Mr Casey to drop out of the presidential race.

Earlier: Calls for Peter Casey to withdraw from Áras race after Traveller comments

Calls are being made on Peter Casey to withdraw from the race to be Ireland's next President over comments he made about Travellers.

Mr Casey said Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic minority.

Pavee Point has described the comments as grossly insulting and offensive and have called on him to withdraw from the race for the Áras.

Peter Casey made the comments while speaking to the Indepdent.ie's podcast 'The Floating' Voter.

"I don't believe that Travellers should be given special status, why should they be given status over and above yourself or myself," said Mr Casey.

He said that it is "nonsense" that Travellers are viewed as a minority ethnicity saying "they're not Romany or whatever".

He went on to describe Travellers as "basically people that are camping on somebody else's land".

Digital Desk

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