Peter Casey suspends campaign 'to think carefully' about continuing Presidential bid

Peter Casey suspends campaign 'to think carefully' about continuing Presidential bid
Peter Casey at the launch of his presidential campaign at CHQ building, Dublin earlier this month. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

By Elaine Loughlin and Digital Desk

Peter Casey is to take the weekend off to decide whether he will continue to run for the presidency of Ireland.

The former Dragon's Den star sparked controversy this week over remarks he made about the Travelling Community.

Mr Casey who said he does not recognise Travellers as a distinct ethnic minority and they are "basically people camping in other people's land" has refused to back down from his comments.

However, in a statement released this morning, he said: "In light of the events of the past few days, I am taking the weekend off from the campaign to think carefully about whether to continue in the race.

I do not want the people of Ireland to elect me as President of Ireland just based on one statement I made. I want to be of service, and make a real difference. I have the expertise and ability to be an influencer. I want to connect people, at home and abroad.

"I know that my world experience and global views will make me a uniquely suitable candidate for President of Ireland – with drive, ability and energy," said Mr Casey.

Reacting to the statement, president Michael D Higgins said: "I think reflection is very good".

"I can't speak for him but I do think that it's good to think on it," he told RTÉ's Sean O'Rourke show.

Mr Higgins said he thought Mr Casey's comments on the Travelling Community were "appalling".

There had been calls from Traveller representative groups this week for Mr Casey to pull out of the Presidential race after he claimed that Travellers should not have special ethnic minority status.

His comments emerged after he referenced a €1.7m development which was built for members of the Travelling Community in Tipperary. However, they have refused to move into the houses.

During a visit to the site in Thurles yesterday, he once again criticised Travellers representative groups.

"Pavee Point leadership needs to come here and needs to explain to the Travelling community that they're really not doing a justice to the Travelling community," he said.

Protests were expected to greet him, however around a dozen protestors arrived shortly after Mr Casey had already left.

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