Councillor vows to save Clonkeen College pitches

by Aengus O'Hanlon

A LOCAL politician has vowed to save the playing fields at Clonkeen College and is tabling a motion to have the land dezoned from residential to amenity status – which would effectively make it worthless to developers.
Cllr John Bailey told The Gazette this week: “They will not build on this land. They’re not going to take away the playing fields, the sport and recreation grounds.
“This is the only non-fee paying boys’ school in the area, and if this sale goes through, it will only be left with around three acres – how could you get a hurling pitch into a paltry three acres?
“Where are you going to hit the ball – through the windows of every house?
“And where are you going to put the dressing rooms, the run-off areas? It’s just not realistic.”
It emerged last month that the Christian Brothers had decided to sell off 7.5 acres of sports land used by the Deansgrange-based school. The land in question has been zoned residential, and contracts of sale have been agreed between the Brothers and a local home builder.
Cllr Bailey has submitted a motion which he hopes will be voted on next week. He said: “I have a motion before the Council asking my colleages at DLRCC to ask the manager to commence a variation of the County Development Plan 2016-2023 to rezone the lands at Clonkeen from Section A, which is residential, to Section F, which is open space.”
Cllr Bailey says that with up to 13,500 new homes currently being built in the school’s catchment area, the controversial sale – and development of more property on the site – would mean future generations of kids would have nowhere to exercise.
He added: “It would cause a massive intrusion to the locals out here. You’d have people looking into gardens – back gardens. It’s an elderly population.
“But most importantly, they’re not providing for the future and the future generations who are going to go to the school.”
The Brothers intend to pay €10m from the sale – estimated to be in the region of €18m – to the State redress scheme for the historical sexual abuse of children by its members.

Vision
However, Cllr Bailey said the decision to cash in on the land shows a lack of vision, arguing that it will leave the only non-fee paying boys school in the area with nowhere for their future pupils to exercise and play sport.
He continued: “The Christian Brothers and the Edmond Rice Trust, without any consultation to the school’s board of management, decided on the 23rd of May that they were selling the land at the rear of Clonkeen College and leaving the school with a paltry three acres, which is not big enough for a GAA pitch.”
Cllr Bailey said that the Edmund Rice Schools Trust was founded on the basis of education, “not selling land”.
The Brothers last month defended their decision to sell most of the playing fields, and highlighted that as part of the development it was also proposing to transfer around 3.5 acres of land bordering the college to the Edmund Rice School’s Trust “for the permanent use and benefit of Clonkeen College”.
“This will bring the congregation’s total land transfer for Clonkeen College to 6.6 acres, inclusive of 3.1 acres transferred with the school in 2008,” the Religious Order said in a statement issued on May 19.
The Order said it would “also donate €1.3 million cash (inclusive of a €300,000 contribution for school works) to Clonkeen College”.

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