Diocese of Killaloe set for €1.2m windfall

A diocese which has paid out €2.67m to clerical sex abuse victims and recorded an estimated paper loss of €6m-€7m on investments is set for a €1.2m windfall.

That is after the Diocese of Killaloe put up for sale a strategic site in Ennis that contains the grounds of the former Ennis National School. In the sale, the Killaloe Diocesan Trust has placed an advised minimum value of €1.2m on the site.

According to a brochure for the site the 4.2 acres, which is zoned town centre, “provides a significant opportunity to enhance the retail opportunities in Ennis”.

The anticipated windfall from the sale will help the diocese’s finances. Between 2003 and 2012, it paid out €2.67m to victims of historical clerical sex abuse while the diocese took a major hit from the financial crisis, with former bishop of Killaloe Dr Willie Walsh estimating in 2009 that the paper loss due to the collapse in the diocese’s share portfolio could be around €6m-€7m.

However, one developer who paid a deposit for the purchase of the old Ennis National School site on August 13, 2015, said yesterday that he feels extremely let down by the Diocesan Trust over the proposed sale.

Larry Brennan’s Woodhaven Developments Ltd paid the deposit for the site last year and is in the process of securing planning permission to demolish the old school building with the consent of the diocese. However, the diocese did not sign the contracts and has instead now offered the site for sale by public tender.

Mr Brennan said yesterday he has no further interest in purchasing the site in spite of the deposit being paid and the plans lodged.

He said: “In light of what has occurred in this deal, unfortunately, Woodhaven Developments Ltd no longer feels that it can do business with the Diocesan Trust and have indicated that they no longer have any interest in acquiring the property.”

Mr Brennan claimed that the Trust entered into parallel negotiations with a third party concerning the sale of the site after contracts had issued, had been signed by Woodhaven Developments Ltd, and a deposit paid.

Parties seeking to tender for the site have until May 6 to do so.


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