In May 2017 the community around Clonkeen College in Deansgrange was reeling from the news that the Christian Brothers had sold most of the college’s playing fields to a developer. At a subsequent public meeting convened by the school, and attended by over 500 people, the principal spoke of his shock at the betrayal of the school and its pupils.
In June 2018, a legal action taken by some members of the Board of Management of the school against the Christian Brothers was settled, although no details of this settlement were made public. The school fell silent. An ominous silence which leads us, the local community, to believe that the school have been prevented from further commenting on or objecting to the loss of this precious resource.
This sale, which may not be completed, should not be allowed to go ahead because:
1. It will deprive a non-fee-paying school of the minimum amount of land required for a school of its size, as per the Dept of Education’s own guidelines.
2. It will prevent the school from ever being able to expand, something that it will no doubt have to, due to increased demand for places resulting from the amount of new development already underway in this area.
3. The playing pitches in Clonkeen are an important feeding and resting site for wintering birds, particularly a large flock of Brent Geese (a protected species), hundreds of which have been using the site for a decade. The site is also a rich habitat for bats, egrets, curlew, foxes and other wildlife. All of which will be destroyed.
4. Clonkeen College playing pitches were also used by local sports clubs.
5. In 2009 the school began a process of upgrading the pitches, with the full permission and indeed support of ERST (Edmund Rice Trust, who administer Christian Brothers schools). In the region of €400,000 was spent on draining and levelling the area for sports, money that was fundraised by the parents, past pupils and local community. Money which will be completely wasted if this sale is allowed to complete.
6. As outlined in their new County Development Plan, due to come into force early in 2022, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council want this land protected for strategic neighbourhood infrastructure. Something the local community supports.
7. The sale of Clonkeen Colleges playing pitches illustrates that religious orders cannot be relied upon to support the best interests of our schools and the wider community.
8. The situation at Clonkeen College should ring alarm bells throughout the country. If this can happen to Clonkeen College, it can happen anywhere in the country. We call on government to stop this sale and protect this precious resource for our children and their children.
How Can You Help?
Follow the social media accounts of #SaveClonkeen
You can also sign the petition to Save Clonkeen HERE
And please spread the word through your neighbourhood groups, clubs, families and friends.