Dublin school hits out at sale of land to pay redress scheme

Clonkeen College face losing their playing fields

Dublin school hits out at sale of land to pay redress scheme

Clonkeen College in Dublin

The head of a Dublin secondary school says he hopes the sale of its playing fields will not go ahead.

Clonkeen College face losing their fields as the Christian Brothers congregation has agreed to sell the land to property developers.

The Brothers have said the sale of the land is necessary to discharge its debt of €10m to the redress board and for the future support of ageing brothers.

According to a 2016 Comptroller and Auditor General report, the Christian Brothers offered €34m to the State redress scheme. Of this figure, just €10m has so far been paid.

Image: Comptroller and Auditor General 

Edward Melly is the principal of Clonkeen College.

He told Newstalk Breakfast the majority of the money is not going to the redress scheme.

"Less than half of the profits in relation to this land deal, it would appear, are going towards that compensatory fund.

"The remainder of the money, we've been explained, is going towards the Edmund Rice Schools Trust - which is the trustee's body that looks after the interests of 96 Edmund Rice schools.

"Other monies will be going towards the ageing Christian Brothers population".

Map shows Clonkeen College surrounded by land | Image: Google Earth

He says staff were told very little about the plans.

"We've obviously been totally caught unaware by this - apparently this deal has been in the making for over 12 months before we were even informed about it".

"There was a proposal back in 2006... where we'd lose much less of our playing fields.

"However the school at that time... wanted to preserve its playing fields, cause they're for the use of the community and the students of the school.

"So the school objected back in 2006.

"And in fairness to the (Christian) Brothers that were dealing with the school at that time, the Christian Brothers agreed with the school, were very sympathetic towards the school and understood that playing fields should be used for the school.

"And out of that came an agreement that a portion of the land... could be sold - so there was a section of the land that was agreed upon that could be sold."

He says it "appears" the Christian Brothers are reneging on this deal.

"It has been presented to us as a fait accompli - however, as far as we are aware and as far as we've been told the deal hasn't closed yet.

"If the deal hasn't closed where there's life, there's hope. We're still hoping that this deal can be backed out of".

"If there is an issue about a commitment to the redress scheme, why not have the State take the lands in lieu of any outstanding bills?".