Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ceisteanna (135)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

135. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there are restrictions on the usage of profits that have been made or may be made in the future from the sale of school premises and lands by religious orders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11764/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In the past, the majority of schools in the State were constructed on lands made available by the relevant school Patron. The land was not in the Minister's ownership. As the Deputy may be aware, where significant grant aid is provided by the Department for the development of school premises on property not owned by the State, this investment is secured by way of a charging lease. In circumstances where the property has ceased to be used as a school, the Minister has on occasion received requests to release the Minister's interest secured under the charging lease in the buildings from the relevant school Patron. Generally, an assessment of the need for the property is carried out and where the building concerned is no longer deemed to be required for current or future educational use, the Minister's interest may be released.

The following information was provided under Standing Order 40A

As previously advised, in the past the majority of schools in the State were constructed on lands made available by the relevant school Patron. It is important to emphasize that the land itself was not in the Minister's ownership.

In relation to school properties built on these lands not owned by the State, where significant grant aid is provided by the Department, this investment in the buildings is secured by way of a legal indenture (charging lease or a Declaration of Trust). The purpose of this charging lease is to protect the Minister’s interest in such school buildings.

Where the property ceases to be used as a school, the owner of the property may apply to the Department of Education and Skills for the surrender of the Minister’s interest.

In general most requests received by my Department to release the Minister’s interest refer to cases where either the proposed future use relates to the property being utilised for community or educational purposes or, the proceeds of the sale of the property are being used for community or educational purposes.

Agreement to a request by the owner to release the Minister’s interest in a property removes any future involvement by my Department in the property. Whilst the intended use of proceeds from sales of such properties is taken into account when the Department is considering applications for surrender of the Minister’s interest, the current situation is that the State does not restrict what use registered owners make of the proceeds of sales of their properties, nor what use is made of profits should they arise.