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Christian Brothers agree to transfer lands worth €100m

Half proceeds from future sales of these lands will go to State

Christian Brothers’ school lands are to be transferred to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

The Christian Brothers have told the Department of Education they are prepared to transfer school lands worth approximately €100 million under conditions that the order has resisted up to now.

The school lands, which are associated playing fields, are to be transferred to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust. Half the proceeds from any future sales of these lands would go to the State.*

The issue that was holding up a deal until now was how the proceeds of future sales would be treated.

The Brothers have written to Minister for Education Richard Bruton asking that he consider, in the event of any future sales, that the proceeds recouped by the department would go towards the needs of future generations of children, in education or otherwise. However, they say the decision would be entirely at the discretion of the Minister.

Redress scheme

The development comes in the wake of a report in March from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office (C&AG) which said the Brothers had, in 2015, “withdrawn” their proposal for the transfer of the lands because they could not agree to the terms being sought by the department.

The C&AG’s report, which concerned the €1.5 billion redress scheme, led to sharp criticism of the Brothers and other religious orders. It revealed the congregations, as of the end of 2015, had contributed only €192 million towards the cost of the scheme.

At the time, Mr Bruton said he found the situation in relation to the contributions from the religious groups “hugely disappointing and massively frustrating”, with “one substantial offer having been withdrawn”.

It is understood that, in the period since March, the brothers reflected further on how they could reach an agreement with the State. This led to a change of position which has now been communicated to the department. It is thought a deal is now likely to be agreed.

The proposal is very similar to one made to the congregation by the department in 2013 but which the Brothers found unacceptable at the time.

*This article was amended on May 13th, 2017

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