'I will definitely make money, I am not Robin Hood' - Peter Casey in €1m bid to buy homes from Traveller row
Businessman Peter Casey said he will offer €1m this week to buy the unoccupied homes in Tipperary that led to the Traveller row which dominated last year's Presidential election.
He wants eventually to make the homes available on a rent-to-buy scheme.
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Mr Casey said he plans to speak with officials in Tipperary County Council tomorrow about buying the six homes at Cabragh Bridge that were at the centre of negative comments the former Presidential candidate made about the Travelling community.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent yesterday, Mr Casey said he will offer Tipperary County Council €1m for the six homes.
He then plans to turn the enclave into a gated community equipped with security cameras, before making the homes available to rent.
He insisted the homes will be made available at a competitive market rate for perspective tenants on a five-year lease.
At the end of the lease he will offer the tenants an opportunity to buy the homes. He has also promised to provide a loan at a competitive rate to help them fund 50pc of the cost of buying the home.
"They will have to get the remaining 50pc from one of the commercial banks or elsewhere," Mr Casey said.
The €1.7m estate has been at the centre of a bitter stand-off between Tipperary County Council and local Travellers. This led to Mr Casey claiming the State's recognition of the Travelling community as an ethnic minority was "a load of nonsense".
Two five-bedroom houses and four three-bedroom houses were initially built for members of an extended Traveller family, who eventually refused to move into the completed homes in late 2018 claiming the council should also provide stables and land for their horses. The houses have remained vacant since.
Mr Casey said he has been in informal contact with the local authority about the homes but his offer has not yet been made. Plans are in place for him to make the €1m offer to Tipperary County Council officials tomorrow.
The intention behind the purchase is to raise awareness of the vacant or unoccupied houses throughout the country that could be used to solve the housing crisis, he said.
"I will definitely make money, I am not Robin Hood. I see it as a solution towards solving a problem that is there. These houses are sitting there empty, it is just ridiculous," he said.
"Instead of giving people free houses, the Government needs to co-fund people into buying them - make it affordable to buy homes.
"If somebody has rented a house for five years they have demonstrated they are financially solid, so I would have no problem co-funding them and loaning them 50pc of the money they need to make the payment."
Yesterday Mr Casey said he expected to make a profit of 1pc to 5pc from the scheme if his plans to purchase were successful.
If his profit margin increases to 10pc or more he said sums made above this threshold will be donated to charity. He insisted €1m was a fair price for the properties.
"I will make them a very attractive place to live and I would hope to eventually get planning permission to build more houses around there.
"I will put them on the rental market and whoever wants to rent them will be interviewed and they will be made [available at] a very affordable rent.
"Then at the end of five years I will give them an option to buy the property at market rate if they have been good tenants. If they want to buy them I will give them a loan for up to 50pc towards the cost of purchasing."