State missed out on windfall profits


PROPERTY:MOST OF the properties that were transferred from the religious orders to State ownership are worth considerably less than they were at the time of the indemnity deal in 2002, according to commercial property sources.

The State also missed out on the chance to make windfall profits from their newly-acquired assets during the property spike between 2004 and 2007 because of the slow pace of transfer.

The Department of Education has said 21 properties that formed part of the deal, with a value of €26.8 million, have been fully transferred to State agencies. The transfer of at least 40 more properties has yet to be completed, seven years after the deal was agreed.

According to one leading property agent, who declined to be named because of his involvement in the valuation and sale of religious-owned land, most of the 21 properties are now worth less than they were at the time of valuation in 2002.

He declined to say by how much their value had fallen but said some were “unsaleable” in the current market conditions.

Another agent said the value of commercial sites both in Dublin and around the country had dropped by over 50 per cent from a peak a few years ago.

The situation with schools was different because in general such sites could not be redeveloped. In this case, the relevant measure is the replacement value of a school, which has fallen by 10 per cent in recent years. He said the valuations included in the agreement seemed fair given the nature of the properties involved.

The most valuable of the properties transferred so far is a three-acre site at Merrion, Dublin, given to Dublin City Council by the Sisters of Charity for social housing. Its value is put at €8.9 million.