VIDEO: Traveller in eviction row owns Limerick ghost estate
Published 14/09/2011 | 11:02
THIS is the 33-unit housing estate in Co Limerick owned by one of the Irish Travellers living on the controversial and illegal Dale Farm camp in England.
The substantial detatched houses, which could sell for over €400,000 each, have been under construction since 2004.
Irish Travellers living on England’s largest illegal halting site at Dale Farm in Essex face eviction next week.
The Traveller, who can’t be identified because he shares the same name with five other Travellers on the Dale Farm site, became the title holder of the ‘ghost’ estate 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.
A prior applicant successfully lodged planning permission with the local authority for the houses in Rathkeale, where there is a large Traveller population.
Work is still continuing at the housing estate at Ballywilliam North on the outskirts of Rathkeale after Limerick County Council granted the Traveller permission to extend the planning application when he applied through a separate agent last year.
More than half of the Rathkeale houses have been completed but it is unknown if any have yet been sold.
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 few people are 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.
Up to 400 people face eviction from an illegal part of the land bank at Dale Farm in Basildon in Essex next week.
Despite claims by Travellers that 86 families at the Dale Farm site in Essex, England, will be left homeless if evictions proceed, 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.
It also emerged yesterday that Basildon Borough Council had paid housing benefits for some of the Dale Farm travellers directly to a landlord based in Rathkeale.
John Flynn, 55, bought the former scrapyard at Dale Farm for £120,000 ten years ago and owns about five caravan pitches on the site.
Money was paid to Mr Flynn at an address in Rathkeale to cover the rent of his tenants, who were allowed to claim housing benefits, despite living on an illegal site, the council admitted to the Daily Mail today.
Cllr John Doran of Basildon Council today called for an urgent investigation: “I have long called for an inquiry into the funding of the site.
“This new information needs to be looked at by the council to compare it with any homeless applications and housing benefits claims.
“I do not want to prejudice any investigation, but if any of the same people are involved, it would have huge implications,” he said.