Thursday 14 November 2019

High Court action over plan to sell school's playing ground to builders settled

Clonkeen College fields
Clonkeen College fields

Aodhan O'Faolain

A High Court action over the Christian Brother's plans to sell part of a South Dublin secondary school's playing grounds to builders for €18m has settled.

Certain members of Clonkeen College's board of management had sued the congregation of Christian Brothers, which set up the school, aimed at retaining the playing fields for as long as the school remains in operation.

The congregation had opposed the action and denied the board member's claims the proposed sale would adversely affect the Deansgrange-based 520 pupil school.

The case returned before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart on Friday morning when James Dwyer SC for the board members said the case has been resolved and could be struck out.

Peter Bland SC for the congregation said the strikeout was on consent. No details of the settlement were given to the court. 

The hearing began on March 16th, and had been adjourned from time to time. The Judge also made a number of preliminary rulings in the case. 

The plaintiffs challenged a €18m deal where the congregation is to sell 7acres of the playing fields to builder Mr Patrick Durkan Snr.

Under the deal, the school was to receive €1.3m and was to retain one area for use as a playing pitch, which the board says is unsuitable.

The plaintiff's claimed they were kept in the dark over the deal.

They claimed the sale breached a 2006 agreement with the congregation whose terms included that the playing fields would remain available for the school.

They sought declarations including that the school's are entitled to the continued use of the playing fields as long as the school remains in operation.

They also sought an order restraining the disposal of the playing fields and that the purported 2006 agreement be specifically performed.

The congregation denied entering into any agreement in 2006 as alleged. If there had been any such agreement, they also claimed, it was null and void.

It argued it had a binding contract to sell the lands and intends to make significant charitable donations from the proceeds of the sale.

The playing fields at the centre of the dispute are held by trustees acting on behalf of the congregation and are the subject of a five-year licence for sporting use.

The licence was granted by the trustees to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, which owns Clonkeen College.

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