Saoirse McHugh reveals she called Peter Casey before RTÉ debate
Saoirse McHugh is one of the most talked about politicians in Ireland right now.
While she ultimately fell short of the quota, she was a major part of the "green wave" that saw the Green Party far exceed expectations in local and European elections. The first time candidate, who is just 28, finished on a total of 61,957 votes.
McHugh made a name for herself by challenging failed presidential candidate Peter Casey during a Prime Time debate, winning widespread praise and attention in the process.
Speaking to Dion Fanning on next week's episode of Ireland Unfiltered, McHugh revealed that she actually called Casey before the debate showdown, urging him to stop making incendiary comments about immigration.
Recalling the debate, McHugh said: "We spent 20 minutes, I think, talking about, shouting about immigrants and stopping within-EU immigration. Nonsense, really."
Asked specifically about what she wanted to say to Casey, McHugh revealed she had serendipitously ended up in a position to call Casey and tackle him on his immigration rhetoric.
"I had rang him before that, I had rang him about a week previous. One woman emailed us all looking for help and he accidentally hit "reply all" and included his number, so I rang him... because I didn't believe that he really actually cared, I got the impression that he was just doing it for attention.
"So I rang him to ask him not to do that. How naive of me. And I was saying to him that these things do have real life repercussions and he was telling me 'Oh no, there's a load of people in Direction Provision claiming off the system for free.' As if anyone has ever been like 'Oh, I'll go to Direct Provision for a holiday.' And he was jumping back and forth about the housing crisis and the health crisis and I was just like...
"I don't know why I was. Maybe I thought no-one had said to him before, I don't know why. I was talking to him about how they're people, and the narratives he's giving out have real-world repercussions but not for him. Sure he ended up being like 'Thanks for your input.'"
Asked whether or not she came up with her famous barb - "If you want the attention that much, go on Dancing With The Stars" - on the spot, McHugh said: "I had tweeted that at him before. Oh, he'll be on Dancing With The Stars."