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Friday 17 November 2017

Diocese buys back its old office -- for €1m less

Barry Duggan

A CATHOLIC diocese has bought back its former office for almost €1m less than the price it was sold for at the height of the property boom.

The Irish Independent can today reveal that the Limerick Diocese has bought the four-storey Georgian building (pictured) in Limerick city centre for €350,000.

The diocese sold the same building -- 66 O'Connell Street -- in 2007 to an auctioneer for €1.25m.

Previously, the administration offices of the diocese were in the O'Connell Street building before they sold the entire property and moved to a new premises on Henry Street.

The building was purchased at an Allsop's auction earlier this year where the reserve price was €260,000.

It was eventually sold to the diocese for €350,000 -- some €900,000 less than what they received for the same premises five years ago. At the time of the sale, all but two of the offices in the building were let and the property is generating rent of €32,000 a year.

The Irish Independent understands that the diocese bought the property back because it could earn more from renting the property than from the interest it would make if it kept the €350,000 on deposit in the bank.

The four-storey building is above a basement area and has a garden located in the rear.

A Limerick Diocese spokesman said that "the past five years has seen a significant expansion at the diocese in terms of the level of services we provide, including across critical areas such as child safeguarding services, resourcing parishes, our education office and youth ministry."

"The anticipated rental income from this property will help fund significantly increased costs arising from the provision of these services," the spokesman said.

In recent years, administrators and senior clerics of the Limerick Diocese have proven to be far more proficient in an extremely volatile property market than some of the country's best-known developers.

The diocese sold a number of assets -- which were not generating income -- during the Celtic Tiger era to fund their additional services.

In 2007, the former residence of the Bishop of Limerick, 'Kilmoyle House' on the North Circular Road, was sold for €26m to developer, Aidan Brooks.

The sales of the former diocesan offices along with Kilmoyle House helped the diocese turn around its financial position from a €500,000 annual deficit six years ago.


After selling 'Kilmoyle House', a new home for the next bishop was purchased shortly afterwards in the Annacotty area for €700,000.

Aside from investing in the diocesan education office and lay experts to enhance child safeguarding services, the diocese has also increased its annual spend through adult faith formation courses, a new communications strategy, including investment in a new website, as well as higher levies to the church nationally.

The investment in safeguarding children was validated by a national audit last month which roundly applauded the efforts within the diocese to protect children.

Irish Independent

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