Peter Casey will set up ‘New Fianna Fáil’ if party objects to his membership
Fianna Fáil accuses presidential candidate of engaging in lazy and dangerous politics
Presidential runner-up Peter Casey may make moves to set up a new party after both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael categorically ruled out the prospect of him running as a candidate for either of their parties.
The Donegal businessman said on Monday that if Fianna Fáil did not want him as a member he would set up a new party called New Fianna Fáil.
Mr Casey said he would “top the poll” in Donegal and criticised party Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin for being “too nice to take on Leo Varadkar”.
The presidential candidate said he wanted to lead the main Opposition party, despite never having been a member.
Speaking to the Today with Miriam show on RTÉ he said: “You have to be aligned to a party to be successful.”
His comments have been rejected by many Fianna Fáil TDs, including the two sitting deputies in Donegal, Charlie McConalogue and Pat the Cope Gallagher.
Mr Casey was accused by Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley of engaging in lazy and dangerous and irresponsible politics.
“I’m not sure what he’s trying to do,” said Mr Dooley, the party’s communications spokesman.
Mr Martin said at the weekend that the Derry man lacked a “coherent or cohesive” political vision.
Mr Casey, whose election campaign was marked by criticisms of Travellers and their separate ethnic status, polled strongly with 342,727 votes, or 23.25 per cent of the overall vote.
If Mr Casey was so keen to become taoiseach, said Mr Dooley, then surely an obvious route for him would be to join Fine Gael and then depose Leo Varadkar.
However, Fine Gael has also dismissed the businessman joining the party. Minister for Education Joe McHugh, also based in Donegal, said: “Is there a position for him in Fine Gael? Not unless he was to change his position on some of his controversial stands. With regard to Donegal, the convention was held a couple of months ago so we are full-steam ahead in terms of trying to secure as many votes at the next general election, whenever that comes.”
Mr Casey did not spell out what he meant by New Fianna Fáil. Niall Blaney set up an Independent Fianna Fáil in Donegal in the 1970s after leaving the party. There has also been talk of Mr Casey being connected with Renua, the right-of-centre party led by Offaly councillor John Leahy. However, Mr Casey was not contactable for comment on Monday.
Mr Casey said on Monday he suspected Mr Martin would not take his call and that he did not have the Fianna Fáil leader’s number.
Responding to a comment that Fianna Fáil was “full”, Mr Casey, said, “the party’s full – full of nonsense. If they don’t really have room, then they have a problem.
“They definitely need someone like Peter Casey.”
Donegal needs a strong representative, he said. Mr McConalogue is a very strong candidate, he added. “I will definitely top the poll when I stand in Donegal.
“Pat the Cope Gallagher said he was passionate about standing for Donegal, then he put his hat in the ring for ceann comhairle. That’s a bit disingenuous.”
He said he will recoup his presidential election campaign expenses, which he estimates will be under €100,000, which he will then donate to “whatever worthwhile cause I want”.