Clonkeen College pitches dispute to resume after Easter

Board brings proceedings against Christian Brothers over plan to sell playing grounds

The Christian Brothers propose to sell seven acres of fields, used by Clonkeen College in Deansgrange for sports, for a reported €18 million. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The Christian Brothers propose to sell seven acres of fields, used by Clonkeen College in Deansgrange for sports, for a reported €18 million. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

A High Court action over plans by the Christian Brothers to sell part of a south Dublin secondary school’s playing grounds to builders for €18 million will resume after the Easter Holidays.

Members of the board of management of Clonkeen College have brought proceedings against 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 opposes the action, and denies the board member’s claims the proposed sale to a developer will adversely affect the Deansgrange-based 520 pupil school.

The lands in question are held by trustees acting on behalf of the congregation and are the subject of a five-year licence for sporting use which is due to expire next August.

The licence was granted by the trustees to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, which owns Clonkeen College.

On Tuesday Ms Justice Carmel Stewart handed down a ruling in a preliminary issue in the case.

The Judge dismissed the plaintiff’s application to amend the title of the proceeding from the named individual board members and replace it with the ‘Board of Management of Clonkeen College’.

The plaintiffs said the bringing of the action in the individual member’s names was a mistake, and they should have sued in the corporate name as the school’s board of management.

The application was opposed by lawyers for the Congregation, who in their defence argue the plaintiffs have no interest in the lands that are the subject of the proceedings.

The judge said she was refusing the application due to the absence of evidence that there was any mistake in the name of the proceedings, any doubt as to the identity of the plaintiffs and any occurrence of a mistake.

The naming of the individual plaintiffs seems to be a matter of choice, the Judge said.

Following her ruling the Judge adjourned the case, which opened on March 16th last, to April 10th.

In their action the board members have challenged a €18m deal where local builder Mr Patrick Durkan Snr is to acquire a very significant portion of the playing fields, some seven acres, from the congregation.

The board members claim they were kept in the dark over the deal, and in the years prior to the deal the board had raised more than €450,000 in funds to improve all its facilities including the playing fields.

Under the proposed sale agreement the school will receive €1.3 million and will retain one small area of the existing playing fields for use as a playing pitch, which it does not believe is suitable for the school’s needs.

They also claim the proposed plan will adversely affect the school’s special education needs unit.

They claim the sale breaches a 2006 agreement with the congregation where the playing fields would remain available for the school and another part of the lands, known as the extended monastery site, would be sold for development.

In their action they seek several declarations from the court including that the students of Clonkeen College are entitled to the continued use of the playing fields as long as the school remains in operation.

They also seek an order restraining the disposal of the playing fields and that the 2006 agreement be specifically performed.

The application is opposed by the congregation which argues the 2006 agreement is null and void.

In its defence the congregation says it has entered into binding contracts to sell the lands and the Christian Brothers intend to make significant charitable donations from the proceeds of the sale.