Travellers may lose homes to pay for cost of evictions
TRAVELLERS evicted from the controversial Dale Farm site in England may lose their homes in Limerick to pay for the major eviction operation.
The removal of the Travellers from the six-acre site in Essex is estimated to have cost Basildon Council €4.9m in legal and operational fees.
However, the local authority is keen to recoup the finance from those they removed from the site in October.
The Irish Independent has learned the council will seek to take possession of assets on this side of the Irish Sea if it is established they belong to people evicted from Dale Farm.
Many of the Dale Farm community -- including leading members who opposed the eviction -- are from Rathkeale, Co Limerick.
Each Christmas, they return to homes in the Limerick town.
Homes and properties in Rathkeale are registered to people who share the same names as those who lived on Dale Farm.
However, trying to establish that the registered owners and the Dale Farm residents are the same people could prove to be a lengthy legal process.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, former leader of Basildon Council, Malcolm Buckley, said the local authority was attempting to establish what assets were owned by the evicted Travellers.
"We will be looking to pursue the former occupants of Dale Farm. There are some obvious links in Rathkeale, but with this section of the community it can be difficult in proving who is who and who owns what," he said.
Mr Buckley, a Conservative councillor, serves as chair of the environmental committee of the council.
"Our legal people are looking at how those links can be confirmed or denied as the case may be. Certainly, if we are able to satisfactorily prove that connection, then it would certainly be a route that we would consider."
He said the "ball park" figure for clearing Dale Farm was estimated to be €4.9m.
"Whether we can recover the whole lot or not might be another story, but even if we only recover 10pc of it, it would make a significant difference to the amount of money we have to spend on other projects."
Mr Buckley was the leader of Basildon Council when it first began the protracted legal battle with Dale Farm residents.
He has served as a councillor since 1988. "I was leader when we started this process. I thought it would have been over long ago," he said.