Sunday 15 September 2019

Peter Casey's €1m proposal for homes at centre of Traveller dispute rejected by council

Peter Casey. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Peter Casey. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Peter Casey with his wife Helen at the controversial homes in Co Tipperary. Photo: Mark Condren
Peter Casey in bid to buy homes Photo: Damien Eagers
Peter Casey in bid to buy six homes. Photo: David Conachy
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Tipperary County Council will reject the advances of former Presidential candidate Peter Casey as he looks to buy the homes at the centre of a row that overshadowed last year's election.

Mr Casey said he wants to pay €1m to purchase the homes that had been rejected by Traveller families.

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He wants to buy them to make the homes available to families in a rent-to-buy type scheme he has planned.

However, Tipperary County Council has ruled out accepting a bid from the Irish-American businessman and has effectively shut down his proposal to turn the six homes into a gated community.

Mr Casey said he anticipated making a profit by letting the homes to families and eventually offering them loans to finance buying the properties after five years.

Any profit margin above 10pc would be donated to charity, he claimed.

But Tipperary County Council said it has plans for the homes and they will not be sold to Mr Casey.

A spokeswoman for the local authority told the Sunday Independent the six homes at Cabragh Bridge, near Thurles, "are part of the council's public housing stock and are therefore not for sale".

Peter Casey with his wife Helen at the controversial homes in Co Tipperary. Photo: Mark Condren
Peter Casey with his wife Helen at the controversial homes in Co Tipperary. Photo: Mark Condren

She declined to outline what contact the council had with Mr Casey regarding any proposals to buy or sell the properties, nor did the council outline if it had received a formal offer for the houses.

Last night Mr Casey said the council told him the houses were not for sale.

"They did write back saying it was not possible to negotiate with those houses but that they would be interested in having a discussion about co-funding social housing if I was interested, which I am," he explained.

In July Mr Casey confirmed he was set to bid €1m for the homes at the centre of the row during the 2018 presidential election campaign. He had claimed the State's recognition of the Travelling community as an ethnic minority was "a load of nonsense".

During the campaign Mr Casey drew attention to a stand-off between Tipperary County Council and local Travellers over the €1.7m estate.

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.

The houses have remained vacant since, but Tipperary County Council is intent on using them for public housing.

The homes have been vacant for almost a year as discussions between council representatives and local Travellers continue about families moving in to the homes.

The delay has been blamed on whether or not Tipperary County Council should provide stables and land for the Traveller families' horses.

The families insist they never sought land and stabling to accompany each house, but the council previously said the families indicated they believed provisions would be made for horses.

A High Court case involving the eviction of Travellers from a nearby unofficial halting site has also caused delays.

Last month the High Court ordered four families vacate a site near Cabragh Bridge.

Sunday Independent

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