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Row over €18 million school grounds sale settled with 4-acre donation

The agreement will see the donation of almost 4 acres of land by the Christian Brothers.

LAST UPDATE | 22 Jun 2018

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 €18 million 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 members’ claims the proposed sale would adversely affect the Deansgrange-based 520 pupil school.

The case returned before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart this 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.

A statement issued after the case had settled said:

“The Board of Management of Clonkeen College and the Christian Brothers are pleased to announce that they have reached an amicable agreement regarding lands at Clonkeen. This has brought an end to all legal proceedings between the parties.

“The agreement will see the donation of almost 4 acres of land by the Christian Brothers to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST) which will ensure first-class sports facilities at Clonkeen College.

“The development of adjoining lands can now proceed, facilitating planned funding of school facilities by the Christian Brothers.”

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

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

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

The plaintiffs 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 schools 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 ERST, which owns Clonkeen College.

Aodhan O Faolain
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