VIDEO: Traveller from eviction-row site builds estate here
A MEMBER of the controversial Dale Farm community of Travellers in England is building a 33-unit housing estate in Limerick.
The man became the title holder of the large estate under construction in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, last year.
It is one of the few estates in the country where construction has continued -- albeit at a slow pace -- since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.
The 33 houses have been under construction on the large site since 2004, when a prior applicant successfully lodged planning permission with the local authority.
The Irish Independent understands that the housing estate at Ballywilliam North on the outskirts of Rathkeale is almost complete after Limerick County Council granted the Traveller permission to extend the planning application when he applied through a separate agent last year.
The Traveller, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is also an intermittent resident at the Dale Farm site.
Up to 400 people face eviction from an illegal part of the land bank at Dale Farm in England next week.
The Rathkeale houses are two-storey properties and more than half of them have been completed.
It is unknown if any have yet been sold or what the cost of the construction is.
Under the original plans submitted in 2004, a planning application was made for 33 dwellings and permission was granted by the council in April 2005.
Last year, an application was made to the local authority to extend the application to allow construction work on the multi-million-euro site to continue.
The request was granted and substantial works have been carried out since.
In Rathkeale yesterday, few were prepared to speak on the record about the well known Traveller.
The Irish Independent understands that he is being backed by other members of the travelling community in Rathkeale in the development of the homes. The silent investors are said to be based across Europe.
Despite claims by Travellers that 86 families at the Dale Farm site in Essex, England, will be left homeless if evictions proceeded next week, locals in Rathkeale say that a large number of the travelling community based in Essex have previously lived in the town and regularly return there.
President of the UK Gypsy Council Richard Sheridan said the families would not be returning to Limerick should the eviction proceed.
Illegal plots began appearing at Dale Farm, which is built on green belt land near Basildon, Essex, about 10 years ago.
Up to 400 people occupy the six-acre site and the community has built roads and connections to electricity.
Neighbouring residents, who want to see the site vacated, said it had been transformed into the biggest halting site in Europe.
Basildon Council said it would push ahead with plans next Monday to restore the site. The eviction -- which will cost up to €20m -- is being backed by British Prime Minister David Cameron.