Funding of €9 million for essential conservation work to halt the structural decline of the Iveagh Markets in Dublin’s Liberties has been approved by the Government.
The Edwardian building on Francis Street, which is at the centre of a legal dispute over its ownership, has been vacant for 30 years and has over the last decade declined into a ruinous condition.
Dublin City Council has agreed to undertake structural safety works to the building and said it is currently evaluating tenders for a design team to oversee “essential stabilisation works”. Repairs to the roofs and walls are due to start next year, which will secure the structural fabric of the building and allow for the development of reuse proposals.
The market was built early in 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 was handed over in trust to Dublin Corporation.
By the 1980s the building had become very run-down and eventually closed in the 1990s. In 1996, the council announced it was seeking a private developer to regenerate the market. The following year Temple Bar hotelier Martin Keane secured the tender, with an agreement that the 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, but before he could act on it the recession hit.
In 2012, he secured a five-year extension of planning permission, which expired in 2017 without any development progressing. That year the council voted to take back control of the market from Mr Keane.
The council said it was still involved in a number of legal proceedings in relation to the Iveagh Markets and could not comment further. Mr Keane did not respond to queries.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the €9 million would enable the council to progress “urgent conservation works to secure the Iveagh Markets”.
Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said the money would halt further deterioration of the building.
“While the future use and management of the building is not included in this specific project scope, it is my hope that the stabilisation of the building will lead to a participative, community-led process that envisions a thriving future for this iconic building as part of the wider redevelopment of Francis Street and Meath Street,” he said.