Peter Casey plans ‘different kind of campaign’ in bid for presidency
Candidate will visit every county and host events such as charity-sponsored walks
Peter Casey says he is ‘not anti-semitic’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill /The Irish Times
Presidential candidate Peter Casey says he is going to have a different kind of campaign from the other candidates.
He is not going to pay for a social media campaign, he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show, as he can get coverage without spending large sums of money.
He anticipates that he will spend between €80,000 to €100,000 which will come from his own resources. However, he will not have a campaign bus, “I don’t have that many friends.”
His plan is to visit every county and host events such as charity-sponsored walks. Shaking hands with people on the Luas or the Dart is not going to get him elected. “I don’t think people want to shake my hands.
“It’s not that type of election. Turning up at the ploughing and shaking hands with 1,000 people is not going to translate to 10,000 votes. It’s not that sort of campaign. I’m going to have videos for every day to help people understand what my platform is and that sort of campaign will get us over the line.”
Mr Casey also claimed that he has travelled more than any other candidate “in the history of attempting to become president.” He spent a third of his life in Australia, a third in America and a third in the UK/Ireland, while his mother was alive he came home from the US once a month and once every two to three months when living in Australia.
“Everywhere I go it blows my mind the numbers who claim to be Irish – who account for 75 million. If we connected the dots that could make a huge difference.
“We have the technology to connect the Irish like never before, through social media, big data analytics.”
Mr Casey pointed out that Ireland was once known as the Land of Saints and Scholars, he wants to sponsor programme that would encourage Irish universities to plug into online courses (Moocs), and circumstances where students abroad could come over, spend a semester in Ireland, “then get credit when they go back to Sydney or America.”
He said he had brought the head of the biggest company in India, Tata, to Ireland to meet with Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton, “they were looking to set up a centre of excellence here, to develop that platform.”
Mr Casey also denied that he ever said Irish neutrality was a joke, “I said it should be considered and questioned. We’re not a nation of spongers, if we need a genuine, sincere, really effective defence force then we have to align ourselves with NATO. It was a soundbite .
“I don’t think we’ll get a seat on the UN Security Council unless my diaspora programme kicks off, we’re fighting so far below our weight as a country, if we can connect with the 70million people (of Irish heritage), when the Taoiseach goes to America he can say ‘I influence 40million people, by the way mid-terms are coming up oh and by the way I’d like your consideration solving the undocumented.’
“The Taoiseach could gently remind him, we have a platform, it would be the Taoiseach not the President.”
He acknowledged that he had changed his thinking on Brexit. Initially he had thought it was like the Y2K problem. “It’s the crisis you have when you’re not having a crisis, I thought what would happen would be that they would kick the can down the road like politicians usually do, there’ll not be enough time to get an exit, they’ll give Britain an extra two years to negotiate an exit, in that time Theresa May will be voted out of office and there’ll be another referendum and the people will vote to stay in.
“That was what I thought was going to happen, I’m not as confident now. But I can’t see any situation where there would be a hard border. They couldn’t enforce it when they had 50,000 troops, B Specials, the RUC, An Garda Síochana and the Irish army, I just can’t see – like Trump’s wall, who would pay for it, who would staff it?”
Mr Casey also admitted that his comments last weekend when playing golf at Lough Foyle had been tongue in cheek. “I didn’t think it through. If I was doing it again I would drive it down the beach, rather than in the water. I did go down and retrieve a ball, but I don’t think it was that one.”
He said he would be prepared to declare his business interests if the other candidates also did so. He also explained using a helicopter to travel to a number of council meetings saying he had to do so as there were 11 council meetings on one day.
His comments on the women in the home clause in the Constitution had been taken out of context, he said. “The clause needs to be changed to reflect changed society, it is important to pay homage to the family unit however it is comprised, to acknowledge the role of carers.”
The campaign has been an eye opener, he said. “Journalists have an empty sheet and have to fill it.”
Mr Casey went on to say he was not anti-semitic, he was a great admirer of the “very tight knit” Jewish community which the Irish should try to imitate. He also denied he was “a Trump lover” as was claimed by a Kerry county councillor.
“I was completely taken aback, my wife would divorce me if she thought I was a Trump lover. I was asked would I meet Trump if he came to Ireland, I said I would give him a warm Irish welcome, the alternative was to stand there and snarl at him.”
He said he would give another presidential candidate Joan Freeman a loan for her campaign. “If she wants it at seven per cent I’ll do it, but it will be a five-year loan not 10.”
Mr Casey also criticised President Michael D Higgins for not seeking nominations for his candidacy. “He changed his mind, he should have gone back to the people as he was elected on understanding that he was going for one term.”