Former Irish presidential hopeful Peter Casey has claimed US immigration officials questioned him over comments he made about America during the campaign for the Aras.

Mr Casey, who is from Londonderry, surged into second place on the back of his controversial social views.

He claimed he was questioned about remarks he made about Donald Trump and a promise that he would give up his green card if he won the election.

The businessman, who owns a recruitment firm in the US but lives in Donegal, said he arrived at Dublin Airport last Thursday for a Delta Airlines flight to the US.

His card would not work at the Global Entry kiosk, a fast-track system for trusted travellers run by US Customs and Border Protection.

He said he was asked to go into a holding area, where he claimed he “saw a side of America” he had not experienced before.

Mr Casey told the Sunday Independent he was asked a series of questions, including: “Why have you not applied for citizenship?”

He said they went on to ask: “Why did you say during the presidential election that you were going to give up your green card?” and “Is it your intention to give up your green card?”

He said he was also asked if he was standing again for election and if so, would he give up his green card.

According to Mr Casey, officials examined him on his knowledge of green card rules, including how many days he had to stay in the USA each year to maintain it.

He claimed he was asked about the birthplace of his children and whether he owned his house in America.

He said: “I was then given a lecture on the fact that my keeping my green card was stopping someone who deserved one from getting one.

“One of the agents even made reference to comments I had made about Trump on the campaign. They had certainly done their homework.”

During the presidential campaign, millionaire Mr Casey revealed he pays 46pc tax on his worldwide income in the US but would be handing back his green card if he won.

He said he was “disappointed” when Donald Trump was elected president and said America was “a racist society.”

He was accused of borrowing Trump’s tactics in his own campaign, by stoking controversy, most notably about Travellers.

Mr Casey caused outrage by claiming that Travellers should not be recognised as an ethic group.

He criticised their culture, accusing families of not moving into new houses without stables for their horses.

While his remarks generated praise in some quarters, others accused him of populism and racism. But Mr Casey said he does not have a racist bone in his body.

However, his campaign took off and he finished as unlikely runner-up in the race for the Aras, securing 20pc of the vote, coming second to incumbent Michael D Higgins.

He was one of three Dragons’ Den investors who put themselves forward for the contest – the others were Gavin Duffy and Sean Gallagher.

A spokesperson for the US Embassy said that it was unable to comment on individual cases.

Irish Independent

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