Parents at a south Dublin secondary school are appealing to its religious founders not to sell fields adjacent to the schools, for housing development.
The Sisters of Jesus and Mary, founders of Our Lady's Grove (OLG) primary and secondary schools in Goatstown, have put 5.4 acres of fields which have been used by the schools, on the market with a reported asking price of €10 million. The land is zoned for housing.
Earlier this month it emerged that the Christian Brothers had put over seven acres of playing fields adjacent to Clonkeen College in Blackrock on the market. Both schools are non fee-paying.
Some 48 homes have just been completed on lands adjacent to the OLG schools – which were also sold by the Sisters. Access to these houses and the schools is via a slip road that runs between them.
The fields now for sale are at the end of this slip road and, if houses are built here too, the schools will be surrounded, preventing any further expansion. The primary school takes in 60 junior infants a year, while the secondary is the only non fee-paying secondary school for girls in the area.
Also on the lands for sale are a Montessori and an after-school facility. Though the Montessori is moving elsewhere, there is no planned alternative after-school facility. The schools have have two hard-courts for basketball but no other fields.
Safeguard school’s future
Lisa Ryan, who has two children at the primary school, is one of many parents who want the Department of Education to buy the fields "to safeguard the future of the school".
“There are so many young families moving into the area. If a developer is going to build houses on this site, where are all those children going to go to school? These fields should be part of an educational campus, to be used for field games and future expansion when needed.”
A number of parents also say the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, as school patron, should prevail on the Sisters to “prioritise the future needs of the school”.
Local Green Party TD, Catherine Martin, will be one of several public representatives speaking at a public meeting on Tuesday night. She is calling for an "urgent audit" of all school lands in the Dublin-Rathdown constituency, saying 25 out of 33 primary schools are zoned for housing.
According to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, of the 105 primary and secondary schools in the county, 93 are zoned for housing.
Ms Martin is concerned more schools may be under pressure to give up surrounding lands
Fine Gael TD, Josepha Madigan, said students needed more space for play and sports so parents were justifiably asking why land was being sold.
A spokeswoman for the Archbishop of Dublin said the diocese education secretariat was satisfied there were “sufficient school places for Catholic children” in Dundrum parish and area. “There are no plans for future extensions.”
The school board declined to comment. The Sisters say they may comment this week.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said: “The decisions to dispose of land owned by the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary are a matter for the congregation itself.” The department has invested €3 million in the school, on new buildings, a carpark and hard courts, since 2007.