PRESIDENTIAL candidate Peter Casey has been accused of resorting to propaganda to incite hatred against the Traveller community in order to win votes and to gain a soundbite.
Killarney-based Travellers’ rights activist Brigid Quilligan said it is very upsetting that a person seeking such a high office would make such “sweeping and dangerous” statements about any minority group.
“It just shows the standard of candidate that can put themselves forward to represent all people and be so hypocritical and judgemental on one group. Comments like that are damaging for the whole community, not just minority groups,” said Ms Qullligan who is manager of the Kerry Traveller Health and Development Project.
A native of Limerick now living in Killarney, she was conferred in 2017 with an Honorary Doctorate of Law from University College Cork in acknowledgement of her leadership in securing State recognition for Travellers as a distinct ethnic identity.
Shocked by Mr Casey’s podcast comments, Ms Quilligan said he exhibited a lack of knowledge of ancient and contemporary Irish history because he obviously doesn’t know the history of Travellers.
She called on Mr Casey to apologise for his remark that Travellers do not pay their fair share of taxes as it will lead to other people believing they are justified in taking a stance because there is so much propaganda.
“I don’t mind paying my taxes. It’s misconception that Travellers don’t pay taxes,“ Ms Quilligan said.
The Travellers’ rights activist said Mr Casey’s comment could have a particularly bad impact on Traveller children who are going into school with everybody talking about what has been said.
“I know he’s doing badly in the polls but he didn’t need to use something controversial like that,” she added.
Mr Casey was nominated by Kerry County Council to run for the presidency with Cllr Michael Cahill proposing and Cllr Johnny Healy-Rae seconding the motion.
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