A native of Derry, Peter Casey was born on the 9th of October 1957 and is one of nine children. As you will know, Casey contested the presidential election earlier this year. However, what you might not know too much about yet, is the Peter Casey who existed before politics. His mother Patsy Casey was deputy headmistress at Nazareth House Primary School and his father Leo was the bursar at the local grammar school, St Columb's College. Peter attended both schools before studying business administration, politics and economics at Aston University in Birmingham.
Casey once explained that one of the greatest challenges he ever faced was the breakdown of his first marriage, Casey spoke candidly about the experience in 2013: “One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face was the breakdown of my first marriage, to a wonderful woman, we were very young and it just didn’t work out. My father Leo died around the same time and it was a very dark period in my life. Having the support of family and close friends through tough times makes a huge difference.”
In a 2016 article Casey wrote for Fora, the businessman gave an honest, raw account of how his first marriage broke down, he explained: “In the case of my first wife, who my family adored and still do, I look back and am still amazed at how she put up with my totally selfish approach to life. I just assumed that she understood that, as a team, everything I was doing was for us and that she, as half owner of the team, understood that she would be the long-term beneficiary. The problem was that she was also a very talented professional going through her own career challenges, which I was completely oblivious to.”
Peter explained that he never really told her anything about the business, and how they had also been on the IVF program for several years and, after several miscarriages, finally had a baby boy who tragically only lived a few minutes. Casey wrote about how he dealt with this experience: “I buried myself in the business as my way of handling the challenge and also threw myself into working out more, playing more squash and swimming, drinking more (hard to believe that would be possible), anything that would help me put the loss of my son out of my mind. One day my first wife came home and said that she was leaving. That she would always love me, but she wanted someone who would put her as number one.”
Peter believed his first wife thought that, to him, making money was number one, having children was number two, making money was number three, and then somewhere, long down the list, her name eventually appeared. He admitted in the candid article that “On reflection she was right.” In his very personal and honest style, Peter explained: “We broke up and she met an amazing man who now puts her on the pedestal she deserves.”
In 1990, Casey met his second wife Helen in Sydney. Helen hails from Crumlin in Dublin. Casey and Helen married in 1990 and in 1992 moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and have happily raised five children. In 2016, Casey sold his mansion in Georgia and now lives in a house in Greencastle, County Donegal.
Peter joined Rank Xerox UK as a sales representative in 1979 and went on to win a national award for sales in his first year. He moved to Sydney, Australia in 1981, and was ranked in the top 5% of sales executives nationally. He became the youngest district manager in Rank Xerox and won Three Oceans Cup as top sales manager in Asia. In 1983, Casey joined Océ Reprographics as state manager for New South Wales. He then rejoined Rank Xerox in 1984 as a branch manager in Sydney, before making the decision to set up his first company, The Trinity Group, in 1985.
The Trinity Group, a search and IT contracting firm based in Sydney, was one of five firms awarded the NSW Government tender to supply temporary staff to the New South Wales Government, the largest contract ever awarded in staffing at the time. Casey sold this business in 1992 and moved back to Ireland for six months before setting out for Atlanta, Georgia where he founded Network Resources which later became Claddagh Resources in 1996. Claddagh Resources place high-level executives across the globe for many Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola, SAP, Tata Consultancy Services, Oracle, IBM, and Ernst & Young.
In 2000, the company established its European headquarters in Donegal which has recently expanded operations to a new Dublin office. Irish America Magazine named him as one of 2007's leading Irish American businessmen. The website of Claddagh Resources states: “Our Chief Executive, Peter Casey, founded Claddagh Resources with the goal of bringing together organizations and qualified employees in order to create an optimal atmosphere for great productivity.”
Now living in Donegal, Peter says his wife Helen is the person calling the shots, day to day, in the business. Throughout the election campaign, Peter alluded numerous times to the fact that his wife keeps him in check, and makes sure he is organised and “on-time”. It is quite evident that Peter has a huge amount of respect and adoration for his wife.
In a segment with the Irish Examiner in 2013, Peter talked about his experience with RTE’s Dragons’ Den. He said: “My mum, Patsy, used to record Dragon’s Den for me and we’d watch it together on my next visit to Derry. That got me into watching Shark Tank, the US version. Then, someone who knew someone suggested I’d make a good dragon, and eventually, it happened.”
In the article, Casey also detailed his thoughts on the process: "Investing on the show is very different from my normal investment process. Usually, I’d do a lot of due diligence before making a move. But on TV, it's immediate. After you’ve made a bid you’re left there thinking — did I really just do this?”
Casey explained that managing expectations of the entrepreneurs he invested in was one of the most important aspects of investing, particularly on Dragons’ Den, saying: “One of the challenges is that you must be very clear with them (Entrepreneurs) that you may have bought 40% of their company, but they have not bought 40% of you. You need to set expectations. We are there to help mentor and open up doors.”
In January 2015, Casey said he would consider running as a candidate at the next Irish general election, though he expressed uncertainty about which constituency he might choose. When pressed to name a constituency he thought he might select Donegal, where he had recently purchased a home, or somewhere in Dublin, where he intended to set up his latest business. "Realistically I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Dublin", Casey said at the time.
In January 2015, Casey gave his opinion on the Fine Gael−Labour coalition to The Irish Times. "In fairness to the current Government I think they have performed fairly well", he said, continuing to state: "Some things they have done badly but overall I'd probably give them a B." He attempted to be elected to Seanad Éireann as part of the Industrial and Commercial Panel in 2016. At his Seanad campaign launch, he said he intended to support foreign direct investment, indigenous business development, and job creation. In the count, Casey received 14 votes; 113 were required to secure a seat.
On August 20th this year, Casey announced his intention to seek a nomination for the Irish presidential election. He became the third 'dragon' from the Irish version of Dragons' Den to seek a nomination after Gavin Duffy and Seán Gallagher. Casey uploaded a promotional video entitled "Platform for President of Ireland" to YouTube. He secured the nominations of four local authorities; Kerry County Council, Clare County Council, Limerick City and County Council, and Tipperary County Council. He criticised incumbent President Michael D Higgins for "extolling the virtues" of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.
Casey finished second to incumbent Michael D Higgins, securing 342,727 (23.3%) votes. A day after the election, Casey indicated that he planned to join Fianna Fáil and run for one of the seats in the Donegal constituency in the next general election. Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins later stated on The Week in Politics that the Fianna Fáil ticket for the constituency was full, saying that Casey should "realise that you can’t just rock up to political parties and think that you can get your way". Casey responded by saying: "I'm 100% serious. If the consensus after talking to them is they don’t want me, I’ll form a new party and I’ll call it the new Fianna Fáil."
Casey wrote a book about the history of the Tata Group. ‘The World's Greatest Company’, as he called it, was published in 2014. He has also published articles in newspapers and other news publications. When writing for the Irish Independent, Casey advocated for voting rights for Irish emigrants.
Throughout his presidential bid, Casey spoke passionately about harnessing the under-appreciated resource which is the seventy-million members of the Irish diaspora worldwide.
He argued in the Sunday Independent that Ireland has the chance to be at the centre of an online education revolution by embracing massive open online courses (MOOCs). Writing on TheJournal.ie, Casey sounded a cautionary note on Bitcoin after the collapse of virtual currency exchange ‘Mt Gox’. In the Sunday Independent, he wrote of how credit rating agencies made Ireland's financial crisis "explode" and suggested how it might be stopped from happening again.