Wednesday 13 December 2017

Pitch sale is the logical outcome of redress

Playing fields long used by pupils will be sold for housing to meet the Christian Brothers’ debts. (Stock image)
Playing fields long used by pupils will be sold for housing to meet the Christian Brothers’ debts. (Stock image)
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The sale of playing fields at Clonkeen College cuts to the heart of a collective double-think around religious orders.

Religious teaching and medical orders are increasingly cast as villainous and greedy institutions whose assets should be stripped to pay for the crimes of the past.

On the other hand, those assets are used, and loved, every day by millions of us.

There's no doubt a bill is owed. A litany of rape and violence at homes run by the Christian Brothers and other orders means a debt is owed to victims whose lives were often destroyed. That's what's happening at Clonkeen College in Dublin. Playing fields long used by pupils will be sold for housing to meet the Christian Brothers' debts.

Clonkeen is only unusual because the land is more valuable than the pitches at other Christian Brothers around the country.

The land is valuable because we have a housing crisis. Its being sold because the redress bill is high. A proposal from the Christian Brothers to give land directly to its schools - now run by a largely lay trust, under the redress scheme, rather than pay cash to the State, was rejected.

It doesn't seem fair that the current generation of school pupils will bear the brunt of financing the orders' redress for crimes suffered by the children of the past.

But ultimately, as land values rise, other schools, hospitals and care homes should brace themselves for similar sales.

Irish Independent

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