Friday 30 September 2016

Department of Education could pay up to €21m for site of Rehab's HQ

Ronald Quinlan and Ryan Nugent

Published 14/07/2016 | 02:30

Former Education Minister Ruairí Quinn Photo: Patrick Browne
Former Education Minister Ruairí Quinn Photo: Patrick Browne

The prospect of the Department of Education acquiring Rehab's landmark headquarters at Sandymount in Dublin 4 could see former education minister Ruairí Quinn's ambition to secure the site for an Educate Together school finally come to fruition.

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The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Quinn held a series of negotiations with the Rehab Group in an effort to acquire the property, which it is now being speculated could change hands for up to €21m. Should the department secure the 5.16-acre site, it would represent a price of over €4m per acre.

A source familiar with the matter recalled the past discussions with Rehab as being tough. "They weren't going to give it away for nothing, that's for sure," the source said.

They added: "Ruairí was well aware that the constituency was crying out for an Educate Together school, and he really felt that it should happen, but it wasn't to be."

When asked for comment, Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe confirmed that the talks with Rehab had taken place prior to the period in 2013 in which Rehab came in for questioning over the remuneration of its then CEO, Angela Kerins.

Mr Rowe said the fact that Mr Quinn had sought to secure the Rehab Roslyn Park property for an Educate Together school had been in the public domain.

He said that Educate Together had not had any conversation with the department in relation to its current efforts to acquire the Rehab site. He added that he had been unaware the department's officials had been seeking to acquire the property prior to reading recent media reports that it was in "exclusive talks" to take control of the campus.

Educate Together currently operates a primary school within the vicinity of Rehab's headquarters.

Temporary

Since being opened in 2014, the Shellybanks national school has been housed in temporary accommodation at the RDS in Ballsbridge.

Asked if he was hopeful that Educate Together might secure a permanent home for the school on the Rehab site, Mr Rowe declined to comment.

However, the Irish Independent understands the Department of Education and Educate Together have held talks in the past about locating the Shellybanks school in the vicinity of Roslyn Park and that a search for a suitable site has been ongoing for a number of years. The department has also been seeking a location for a new secondary school which has been proposed for the area.

A department spokesperson last night said that while it was in the process of acquiring sites in the south Dublin city centre area, "due to commercial sensitivities we are not in a position to provide further information at this time".

Several leading housebuilders have also expressed interest in acquiring the Rehab property, which is offered for sale at a guide price of €12m.

Irish Independent

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