A TRAVELLER GROUP has called for Irish presidential candidate Peter Casey to withdraw from the race for the Áras over comments he made about their status as an ethnic minority.
The 61-year-old businessman and independent candidate claimed the Irish Government's official recognition of the Traveller community as a distinct ethnicity in 2017 was "a load of nonsense".
Speaking to Kevin Doyle on 'The Floating Voter' podcast, Mr Casey also described Travellers as "basically people that are camping on someone else's land" and claimed they were "not paying their fair share of taxes in society".
And referring to residents living near Traveller sites, he added: "Do you think they are sitting here going, ‘this is great for my property value now that I’ve got three dozen caravans down the road’? It is just wrong.
"Somebody needs to sit up and say this is nonsense. Here we are are giving [Travellers] luxurious houses and they’re turning them down because they’ve no stables."
Casey, one of six candidates vying for the Irish presidency, has already been slammed by a number of Traveller representative groups, with Pavee Point describing his comments as "ill-informed, grossly insulting and offensive".
Martin Collins, co-director of the Dublin-based Traveller support organisation, said Mr Casey should withdraw from the election race over his remarks.
"Our president needs to be inclusive of all citizens and I would not have any confidence that he would be inclusive," Mr Collins said.
"These comments put Mr Casey’s presidential campaign on the same level as a local election where people play the Nimby card to gain votes, as we have seen so often in the past."
Sinn Féin presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada claimed Mr Casey's comments amounted to racism and demonisation.
"The Travelling community are an integral and historic element of the Irish nation who have faced discrimination and marginalisation at the hands of the state and local authorities for many decades.
"They have been demonised and vilified by elements of the media who see Travellers as a handy scapegoat when discussing social problems."