Monday 18 November 2019

Church hands over portfolio valued at €41m

More than 40 properties surrendered to the State as part-payment of €1.4bn bill for abuse survivors

Catholic Church orders have surrendered ownership of 41 properties with a total value of €41m to the State as part of the redress scheme, new figures obtained reveal.

School buildings, convents, vestries, playing fields and associated lands across Ireland are included in the list.

The highest value single property was religious grounds in Merrion, south Dublin, which was valued at €8.9m.

Documents sent by Sean O Foghlu, secretary general of the Department of Education, to the Public Accounts Committee, show that the properties were handed over "under the terms of the 2002 Indemnity Agreement".

However, according to his letter, significant issues remain outstanding in relation to the "legal requirements" of the agreement and the Chief State's Solicitor's Office is currently continuing to "pursue" the matter.

"The physical transfers of the properties have taken place and all of the properties are in use or available for use by the intended recipients.

"While they have transferred physically, the Chief State Solicitor's Office continues to pursue the legal requirements under the indemnity agreement," he wrote.

Mr O Foghlu said "the department agreed in principle" with the religious orders that in total 64 properties would be accepted "subject to good and marketable title and agreed valuations".

He went on to say that the number was reduced to 61 properties, after the department accepted "a cash sum in lieu of three properties where the marketable title could not be established".

According to the documents, apart from the significant site at Merrion, eight other properties worth more than €1m were surrendered.

They include a Terenure Secondary School, which was valued at €4.5m; St Teresa's convent at Temple Hill in Blackrock, which was valued at €3.1m and a Traveller site also in Blackrock which was valued at €3.1m. Other significant properties handed over included two separate properties in Tuam, Galway, valued at €3,020,000; St Anne's Secondary School, which was valued at €2,600,000; Holy Cross Gardens, Killarney (€1,270,000); 23 Parnell Square, Dublin (€1,270,000); and Goldenbridge Group Homes, which was valued at €1,269,700.

The documents also show that the remaining 20 properties have not yet been handed over because they are still "subject to good and marketable title being furnished".

The total cost of offering redress to the victims of abuse has soared to almost €1.4bn.

Under a controversial 2002 indemnity agreement, 18 religious orders who ran care institutions pledged to contribute €128m in cash, property and counselling services towards redress costs for abuse survivors.

Irish Independent

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