Trinity College Dublin sells its only academic building in Belfast
But world-renowned Dublin-based university insists it will retain presence here
Trinity College Dublin is selling its only academic building in Belfast - but has insisted it is not leaving the city.
TCD's Irish School of Ecumenics was based in a property on the Antrim Road, but operations have ceased and the building has been put on the market.
Students studied an MPhil course in conflict resolution and reconciliation there until recently.
The property, which is believed to date to the 18th century, boasts an internal area of almost 600 square metres comprising offices, a dining area, kitchen, double garage and tea preparation area. Commercial estate agent Macfarlane and Smyth described it as being in "very good order" and well maintained by the current owners.
Some of the period features intact within the building, which is understood to have previously housed a religious order, include stained glass windows and ornate cornicing, and it is set on almost an acre of land. It is currently on the market for £600,000 and, according to Macfarlane and Smyth, has attracted a lot of interest.
A spokesman would not be drawn on whether there was a bidding war for the building, but said negotiations were currently ongoing.
TCD's move to sell up in Belfast comes shortly after it announced plans to make its courses more accessible for students from Northern Ireland.
Due to the difference between the Leaving Certificate examinations which students in the Republic of Ireland study, students from Northern Ireland had to sit four A-levels to stand a chance of a place at TCD, and the university admitted it had seen the number of students coming from Northern Ireland falling.
It announced a new initiative last summer aimed at tripling the number of incoming students from across the border.
North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said he was sad to see TCD leaving the building. "The fact it has ceased operations in that building is quite sad because obviously it was a resource that could be used constructively and was used constructively in terms of recouncilation and scholarship," the SDLP man said. "It may have been that the building was not suitable for that use. But I wouldn't say it is a blow for north Belfast, if TCD is set to continue its work in the city.
"The important thing is that TCD continues in Belfast."
A spokeswoman for Trinity said it was planning to move to a new location in Belfast to "grow and develop" its work in the city.
"The Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, confirms that the property on the Antrim Road which currently houses its MPhil in conflict resolution and reconciliation is being sold," she said.
"It aims to grow and develop its work in Belfast and will be moving to a new location in the city for that purpose."
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