Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

Fianna Fáil is urged not to 'close the door' on Peter Casey

Fianna Fáil’s leadership has been accused of “closing the door too early” on the prospect of party membership for presidential runner-up Peter Casey.

Mr Casey, who attracted almost one in four of the votes cast in Friday’s presidential election, has further stirred things up by saying Fianna Fáil needed his leadership.

He also said if he could not join the party he may form his own party calling it “new Fianna Fáil”.

The latest comments by the businessman-turned-politician were dismissed out of hand by several leading Fianna Fáil TDs who said his campaign comments about Travellers and people depending on welfare rendered him unsuitable for party membership. But one Fianna Fáil councillor, Michael Cahill of Kerry, said the party’s hierarchy should give serious consideration to Mr Casey’s bid to join the party.

“I think the party hierarchy have closed the door too early on this idea. I do not believe Mr Casey is a racist or anything like it. He is a man who spoke his mind and what he had to say resonated with many people since he got nearly one in four of the votes cast,” Cllr Cahill told the Irish Independent.

Cllr Cahill successfully proposed that Kerry County Council endorse Mr Casey’s candidature last month. This gave the Independent contender the first of the required four council endorsements to get on the ballot paper.

Mr Casey yesterday further stoked things by saying he would offer leadership to Fianna Fáil and go on to become Taoiseach. “They definitely need someone like Peter Casey to shake it up,” he told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1.

“I’m 100pc serious. If the consensus after talking to them is they don’t want me, I’ll form a new party and I’ll call it the new Fianna Fáil,” he added.

But Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív said he could never vote for Mr Casey – even if he was the only candidate in an election – given his derogatory comments about Travellers.

Limerick TD Willie O’Dea said his comments about people unlucky enough to have to depend on welfare made it unlikely he would be fit to be a party member. He said Mr Casey showed “unbridled arrogance” claiming he would top the poll.

Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin said most of Fianna Fáil’s elected representatives had a track record of local work, which Mr Casey lacked. “He seems to think his membership would be a great gift to Fianna Fáil. But I doubt he could sign up to the values of our party which are based on a ‘fair Ireland’,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One yesterday, Peter Casey told Miriam O’Callaghan said “it’s nonsense” that the party is full.

“They definitely need someone like Peter Casey to shake it up,” he told Miriam O’Callaghan.

Responding to suggestions that the party is already “full”, Casey said: “the party’s full, full of nonsense. If they don’t really have room, then they have a problem.

“He [Niall Collins] obviously doesn’t know me and he has not made an effort to speak to me, I’d be delighted to talk to him. I believe that 342,000 people came out and said ‘we support Peter’,” Casey said in responsee.

“I think that should send a message and resonate with the fact how disconnected they are with the people in middle Ireland, the centre, the hardworking people that are getting up, working and feeling that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Asked whether he had contacted the party officially yet, Casey said he had doubts that party leader Micheál Martin would answer his phone calls.

“I can certainly understand why Micheal wouldn’t want me because I actually want his job,” he said.

  • Read more: ‘I am joining Fianna Fail with a view to becoming Taoiseach’ – Peter Casey

“I suspect Micheál probably wouldn’t take my phone call. I don’t have his number.

“I think Micheál is a very decent, good and hardworking politician. I think he’s too nice to take on the likes of Leo Varadkar, who made scandalous, racist remarks about me and hasn’t apologised yet.

“Of all the people he knows I’m absolutely not a racist. He knows I’ve spent more time in India than he has.”

He continued; “I think you have to be aligned with a party to be successful in Ireland.

“The vote wasn’t so much a vote for Peter Casey, it was a vote of frustration. The people feel that there hasn’t really been a government for the last three and a half years. This confidence and supply- it just hasn’t worked in anyone’s benefit. 

“I don’t believe as an Independent you can be successful.”

Mr Casey previously told the Irish Independent that he wants to join Fianna Fáil because the party “was always about the people of Ireland”, but added it had to start “listening again to real people”.

  • Read more: ‘You can’t just rock up to political parties’ – Fianna Fáil rebuffs advances from Peter 

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