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Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin subject of complaint to Charities Regulator

Parishioners at City Quay church say archdiocese will not release funds allocated six years ago for refurbishment

A complaint has been made to the Charities Regulator against the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin alleging a failure to use funds designated six years ago for the restoration of a church in Dublin 2.

Parishioners of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on City Quay have reported the archdiocese to the regulator for failing to use money for a “specified purpose and that consequently the charity is not fulfilling its function and duty in respect of these funds”.

A spokesman for Archbishop Dermot Farrell said he had expressed “strong support” for the refurbishment of the church.

The complaint has been made against the St Laurence O’Toole Diocesan Trust Company Ltd, an archdiocese holding company that owns property in trust on behalf of parishes.


The dispute arises from a settlement of €3.5 million made to the parish in 2018 by a neighbouring developer in relation to inconvenience, nuisance and damage to the church during construction of an office block.

In November 2020, planning permission was granted for work including heating, mechanical and electrical repairs, and window, statue and sacristy restoration, and a contractor was selected following a tender process. Some work was completed to the courtyard in front of the church and the adjoining primary school. However, the substantive work to the church was never commenced.

Parishioners said the church, known as the Dockers’ Church, has been badly neglected and there was a particularly urgent need to rewire and install appropriate heating and safety systems for which there were “more than adequate funds”.

“There is a real concern that the church will be allowed to deteriorate to a condition that will make it condemned and forced to close,” they told the Charities Regulator. “It serves a wide and growing community, however its dilapidated condition does not invite visitors, future parishioners or passersby looking for a moment or two of respite.”

The parishioners, many of whom are older people, said they had been cleaning and maintaining the church for many years. “We are deeply disturbed that money that was allocated for the refurbishment of our beloved church is not being used for that purpose.”

They told the regulator they had made several requests for meetings with the archdiocese to resolve the matter over the last year but had received no response.

“We now find ourselves in the position where the only way we can ensure that the money provided for the church is used for the church is by appealing to you, the charity regulator.”

Their submission asks the regulator to conduct an investigation into the archdiocese “because of its failure to use the funds for the specified purpose”.

“The parishioners believe that the purpose for which the funds were provided should be complied with and honoured.”

A spokesman for the archdiocese said the Diocesan Trust has received and responded to correspondence from the Charities Regulator.

In relation to the work to the church, he said Archbishop Farrell had “strong support” for the refurbishment but there were “procedures in place to ensure that resources are used to best effect and in a transparent and accountable fashion”. He added that the project “will proceed when the archbishop is satisfied that they have been met”.

A spokeswoman for the Charities Regulator said it does not comment on individual cases.

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Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times