Over 200 parents left outraged over school bid to sell their pitches
More than 200 parents, teachers and local residents have said they are "distressed" and "upset" at the news that the Christian Brothers are to sell off 7.5 acres of playing pitches at a Dublin secondary school to developers.
The board of management of Clonkeen College, Deansgrange, is alarmed at the decision of the religious order to cash in on two-thirds of the school's lands for an estimated €18m.
The religious order said it must sell the land to fund the €10m it pledged to pay to the Redress Scheme for sexual abuse victims.
The school has 550 boys and the opening of a new extension will increase this to 620.
Parents fundraised a decade ago and almost €440,000 was spent on drainage work for the pitches.
The school boasts an enviable reputation for producing GAA and soccer teams, but the sell-off means they could lose the equivalent of two playing pitches.
Representatives of Cuala GAA club in Dalkey attended a meeting at the school last night as they use the land for training.
They and other attendees were told of the religious order's decision, and principal of the school, Edward Melly, hit out at the "punitive" action.
"It's difficult to comprehend and we are just so dismayed, distressed and upset," Mr Melly told the Herald.
"No amount of money could possibly compensate us for the loss of those lands.
"Just take a look at what happens on our sports day: the whole community comes together. We'll never be able to replicate that again and it's heartbreaking."
Sixth year pupil Taylor Cook (18) said: "I came to this school when the pitches weren't accessible - they were blocked off from the rest of the school. In the second year they reopened and the joy that it brought everyone was just incredible."
The order said it will give ownership of the remaining 3.5 acres to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.
The school's board of management will also be paid €1m for the development of sports facilities.
The congregation informed the board that monies raised will also be used to fund the development of schools in Africa and pay for the upkeep of elderly members of the order.