A family from the Travelling community that found themselves at the centre of Presidential candidate Peter Casey’s controversial remarks have said that they are not surprised with the support he received in the race.
Mr Casey landed himself in hot water during the lead up to the election after telling Independent.ie that Travellers are “basically people camping in someone else’s land”.
The Derryman finished with 23.3pc of the vote, despite remaining on 1-2pc of the vote in various opinion polls prior to election day.
During his campaign, the presidential runner-up visited unoccupied homes near Cabragh Bridge in Thurles, at the centre of a dispute with the Traveller community in Co Tipperary.
Speaking on behalf of the extended family, Traveller activist Eileen Ní Fhloinn criticised media coverage during the controversy.
“Different elements of the media are now asking us for our opinion about what seems to be big support for Peter Casey in the presidential election,” Ms Ni Fhloinn said in a statement last night.
“Our family has already gone through hell because of the hatred directed against us in all of this. And we have had to learn very quickly that the media were happy to play a very big part in it all.”
However, the activist said that the family were unsurprised with the surge in votes for Mr Casey.
“Are we surprised at the big amount of support for Casey? No. We are not,” the statement said.
“Casey was able to pick the worst-off people in Irish society and set them up against each other.
“When you can get the settled people to put the blame on the Travellers for everything, then nobody needs to question who is really responsible for the terrible conditions the Government has people living in.”
The statement concluded with thanks to those who supported their protest over Mr Casey’s visit to the Cabragh Bridge site, and encouraged the media to learn from their “very big ordeal”.
“A lot of settled people saw through these lies, and we would like to thank them for their support in our dignified protest when Mr Casey decided to ‘visit’ us.
“Casey probably now feels he has got somewhere through using us and all the Traveller community in a hate campaign. So we know he will keep going, and there will be probably a lot more Caseys coming out when they see this works.
“We have learned a lot from this very big ordeal we were put through. We are asking the media now learn from it as well.
“Please check out the facts before you use people in this way – no matter how popular it might be to run down Travellers.”
- Read more: ‘If I was successful I would invite all the Travelling community to move into Phoenix Park’ – Peter Casey
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‘The sentiment expressed is that there is too much political correctness around’ – Micheál Martin on rise in Peter Casey support
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