Thursday 14 December 2017

Calls for government to buy €18m school lands due to be sold of by religious order

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

Ryan Nugent

The owners a south Dublin secondary school have insisted they had no involvement in the decision by the Christian Brothers to sell an €18m site surrounding the school - with a number of county councillors now calling on the government to buy the land.

Local representatives in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdowne say they are in the dark over what they can do to prevent the sale of the site Clonkeen College, and backed a series of motions at a council meeting last night.

Among the motions were calls for an urgent meeting with Education Minister, Richard Bruton,  on the issue, along with the request to council management for a full report to be issued next month on what options may exist to halt the sale.

The meeting heard that some 90pc of of schools in the area were described as "vulnerable" as they, similarly to Clonkeen College, are zoned as "residential" meaning housing can be built on the land.

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.

School owners sent an email to city councillors yesterday insisting they could not do anything to prevent the Christian Brothers from going ahead with the process.

The Edmund Rice Schools Trust said that a Deed of Conveyance signed when they were handed the school ensured that they would not be allowed to make any objection to a future sale of land at Clonkeen.

"The decision to sell the land is the sole responsibility of the Congregation of Christian Brothers," chief executive, Gerry Bennett said.

"While ERST owns the school, the Trust does not own the playing fields at Clonkeen. ERST was not involved in the decision of the Christian Brothers to sell part of the playing fields. 

"We were given limited information about the sale and had to give an undertaking that we would maintain confidentiality prior to being given this.

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.

The ERST say they hope to meet with the board of management at the school as soon as possible over the issue.

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