Call for Iveagh Markets to be returned to Dublin City Council

Hotelier Martin Keane’s planning permission – granted in 2007 – is running out

A deal agreed 20 years ago for the redevelopment Dublin’s Edwardian Iveagh Markets must be scrapped if the future of the historic market is to be secured, Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe has said.

Temple Bar hotelier and publican Martin Keane has planning permission since 2007 to redevelop the market on Francis Street in the Liberties, following a long-term lease deal agreed with the council in 1997.

That permission will expire on Sunday, and Mr Cuffe said the council should take back ownership of the derelict building and redevelop it as a new food market. “The Iveagh market could be the cornerstone of the regeneration of the Liberties. Mr Keane was given a golden opportunity and he failed to deliver the goods.”

However, Mr Keane said he intends to apply for fresh planning permission and was “not going to walk away” from the project.

The Iveagh Markets were built in the early years of the last century by the Guinness family to house street traders who had been displaced by the construction of the nearby Iveagh Trust housing development on Patrick Street, and they were handed over in trust to Dublin Corporation.

The building was split into two markets, a “dry” clothes market fronting on to Francis Street and a “wet market” to the rear, selling fish, fruit and vegetables, accessed from the entrance on John Dillon Street. There was also a laundry and delousing house in an adjoining building.


The corporation, now the city council, continued to operate the market throughout the 20th century, but by the 1980s it had become very rundown and it eventually closed in the 1990s.

In 1996, the council announced it was seeking a private developer to regenerate the market. The following year Mr Keane secured the tender, with an agreement that title of the market would transfer to him once the redevelopment was completed.

However, the development became mired in an ownership row between the corporation and the Guinness family-controlled Iveagh Trust. The dispute was not resolved until 2004. Mr Keane applied for planning permission, which was granted by An Bord Pleanála in 2007.

In 2012, he secured a five-year extension of planning permission, which is about to expire, to redevelop the market, along with the former music venue Mother Redcaps, and a number of surrounding houses, as a hotel, restaurant and food market complex.

“It’s time for the city council to walk away from any deal with Martin Keane. It seems to me that deal was predicated on Martin Keane or companies associated with him moving ahead with development within a period of 36 months, we have gone way beyond that,” Mr Cuffe said.


The council, with the support of the Minister for Agriculture and Bord Bia, should restore the building as a food market, similar to the English Market in Cork or St George’s Market in Belfast, he said.

Mr Keane said he intended to lodge a new planning application by November and hoped to start work on the market early in the new year. The financial crisis and “delays caused by the council” had held up the development to date, he said.

"Anyone who thinks the council can just take the market doesn't know what they are talking about. I would be seeking my costs, including lost opportunity costs and I would enter a lis pendens in the courts which effectively sterilises the property," Mr Keane said. "This is an 'over my dead body' situation."

The council said it had no comment to make.

Heritage body An Taisce has said the building, a protected structure, is at serious structural risk.