Monday 24 July 2017

Last-ditch effort to stop Christian Brothers from selling off €18m of school lands

The lands at Clonkeen College in Deansgrange which have sparked controversy. Picture: Arthur Carron
The lands at Clonkeen College in Deansgrange which have sparked controversy. Picture: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Political moves are afoot to block the Christian Brothers from selling an €18m site surrounding a Dublin school for housing.

Councillors will tonight debate a series of motions seeking emergency changes to the zoning around Clonkeen College in Deansgrange.

The religious order is in the process of selling seven acres at the schools, including a number of playing pitches.

They say the money raised will be used be used to pay compensation for victims of clerical abuse. And the order has promised to secure 3.5 acres and €1.3m for the school.

However, the potential sale has been met with outrage from teachers and parents.

Discussions on selling the land began as long ago as May 2016 - but the school management was not told until recent weeks when a contract was entered into by the order and developer Patrick Durkan Snr.

Clonkeen College is the only non fee-paying post-primary school in an area that has an expanding population.

A series of motions have now been placed before Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council in a last-ditch bid to derail the sale.

The land in question is currently zoned as 'residential' but among the measures being proposed is to rezone it as 'open space and recreational'.

This would effectively block any developer from building homes.

Cllr John Bailey said that 19 schools in the Deansgrange area feed into Clonkeen College and the demand is likely to grow substantially over the next decade.

"This is a disgrace. The local zoning plan will have to be changed and it's crucial to get this through quickly," he said.

The Fine Gael councillor said an application for 48 apartments in the area was turned down in 2008 because it would have impacted badly on the character of the area and traffic.

He also noted the Department of Education has spent €10m in recent years upgrading the school.

"If this plan by the Christian Brothers goes ahead it will leave the school with just over three acres for playing pitches. That's not enough," he said.

"It's in a very tightly knit area.

"This school is ready now to expend and cater for further needs of the area."

Cllr Bailey wants the council to write to the Education Minister to see whether it is possible for the State to buy the land with a view to building further educational facilities.

"People are totally opposed to any residential development on this site," he said.

It is understood the school presented its own plans for the development of an all-weather facility on the playing fields to Edmund Rice Schools Trust just weeks after the charity was approached by Patrick Durkan Snr.

The charity is legally responsible for the congregation's schools and its property.

Irish Independent

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