All Hallows College has confirmed that it will be winding down its operations with immediate effect.

The college, which employs about 80 staff and is a college of Dublin City University, says financial difficulties have forced it to take the decision. 

On Wednesday it withdrew from sale an archive of correspondence between the late US first lady Jackie Kennedy and the deceased Fr Joseph Leonard, who had been a member of the college community.

The president of the college this evening said the withdrawal from auction of the letters had a very significant bearing on the decision to close the college.

Fr Patrick McDevitt also said there was no intention to hurt the Kennedy family by offering the documents for sale.

Fr McDevitt promised to take a part-time job if necessary to ensure that all 450 students are able to complete their degrees.

Its campus in the Dublin suburb of Drumcondra was opened in 1842 as a Catholic seminary to train priests for the foreign missions.

Managed by the Vincentian Fathers since 1892, it opened its doors to lay students in the 1980s.

It has 450 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Arts and Human Sciences.

Many are from countries where its clerical graduates had served in the past.

It also provides over 500 other students annually with further education courses in leadership and human services. 

The spokesperson said the college will now commence a month-long consultation with staff and that it will endeavour as far as possible to bring existing students towards the completion of their degrees.

IFUT hopes management at college 'act honourably' 

The main trade union representing university teachers has said it hopes the management of All Hallows College will act honourably when winding down the institution.

Mike Jennings, the General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers, told RTÉ News, that he was not surprised to learn of today's announcement that financial difficulties had forced the college to stop enrolling new students.

Noting that the union had had what he called "a difficult relationship with college management", Mr Jennings said both sides now have a responsibility to demonstrate mutual respect and to try to resolve the current issues as best they can.

It is understood that IFUT has a very small membership among All Hallows' 80 or so staff and that the college authorities have not recognized trade unions.

A source which did not wish to be identified told RTÉ News that when IFUT challenged what it perceived as the college's refusal to pay statutory redundancy, the college refused to attend Rights Commissioner hearings on the matter.

The same source said that when the union challenged unilateral pay deductions college management would not attend the Labour Relations Commission for discussions.