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hope for market Battle for Iveagh Market takes a twist as Guinness earl seizes control with clause from 1906 deeds


Dublin’s Iveagh Market, which first opened in 1906, has fallen into disrepair. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Dublin’s Iveagh Market, which first opened in 1906, has fallen into disrepair. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Colin Keegan

Dublin’s Iveagh Market, which first opened in 1906, has fallen into disrepair. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Who owns the historic Iveagh Market that has been lying derelict in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties for the last 20 years?

Dublin City Council and hotelier Martin Keane have been in and out of the courts trying to lay claim to it since 2008.

But Arthur Edward Rory Guinness, the fourth Earl of Iveagh, whose family built the iconic market at the beginning of the 1900s, has now put the cat among the pigeons by invoking a clause contained in the original deeds from 1906 to repossess it. The locks were changed yesterday, a new security company was installed to secure it, and both Dublin City Council and Martin Keane spent yesterday consulting their own legal advisors to establish where they stood, which appeared to be out in the cold.

Mr Keane, who owns Blooms Hotel and the Oliver St John Gogarty pub in Temple Bar, told the Irish Independent he was in meetings with lawyers when contacted.

Dublin City Council issued a statement confirming the legal chess move taken by Lord Iveagh, through his agent Paul Smithwick.

“Dublin City Council was notified on December 8 by representatives of Lord Iveagh that Lord Iveagh had invoked the ‘reverter’ clause contained in the original deed of conveyance dated 17/7/1906 (Lord Iveagh to Dublin Corporation),” it said.

“The council was informed that as the Iveagh Market building has ceased to be used as a market for a considerable number of years, Lord Iveagh has, in accordance with the terms contained in the deed of conveyance, repossessed the property and notified the council accordingly. The council is considering the matter with its legal advisors,” it added.

The Iveagh Market took four years to build before opening in 1906. It was built by the Iveagh Trust as part of the Guinness Trust which was founded in 1890 by Edward Guinness, the 1st Earl of Iveagh.

Locals in the area around the once ornate Edwardian redbrick have long sought to see the market developed rather than sliding into decay.

Yesterday they were celebrating as news of the repossession move by Lord Iveagh filtered through the Liberties, thankful that somebody took the bull by the horns.

The ongoing row between the council and Mr Keane dates back to 2008 when Iveagh Market Hotels Limited, a company controlled by Mr Keane, entered into a contract with Dublin City Council to redevelop the site.

The plan was to revamp the site into a European-style food hall with restaurants, a distillery, brewery and craft workshops, and a deposit of nearly €2m was paid to DCC.

But a lack of work at the site led to it sliding deeper into dereliction, while the planning permission granted to Mr Keane lapsed.

In company accounts later filed by Iveagh Market Hotels, it was noted that a "number of legal title issues relating to the premises and site have been ongoing since the date of the contract and these legal title issues have still not been fully resolved".

The accounts, completed at the end of 2017, revealed that at the time of signing the financial statements, title to the premises and site continued to be held by the council and "therefore legal title has not yet been passed to the company and will not do so until such a time as the development is complete".

Frustrated by the lack of development, and not convinced that Mr Keane’s company could raise the necessary finance, the council threatened Mr Keane with legal action if he did not forfeit control of the Iveagh Market.

Assistant chief executive of DCC, Richard Shakespeare, told councillors in January the council had informed Mr Keane of its decision.

"Mr Keane was requested to provide evidence that he had sufficient funds available to deliver the project in a timely fashion," he said in a letter addressed to members of DCC. "The documentation provided to date does not satisfy the council that he has secured the appropriate funding.

"The council has written to Mr Keane advising him that it is terminating all communication with him and that it is taking the necessary steps to repossess the property from him.

"The council will defend this action in the courts if necessary," he said.

And that is where the matter essentially stood in stalemate within the courts until Lord Iveagh swooped in yesterday with the reverter clause underlined on the 1906 deeds.

He told RTÉ that the mandate of the 1st Earl of Iveagh, who built the market, was that they take the poor stall-holders off the streets and house them.

Local People Before Profit Councillor Tina McVeigh said that Paul Smithwick, acting on behalf of Lord Iveagh, told locals the building had been bequeathed to the people of Dublin through the control of the local authority, but when the building was not used Iveagh repossessed it.

“It has given the local residents a sense of hope,” she said, adding that the five local representatives would be seeking a report from DCC at an area committee meeting due to be held last night.

It is estimated that it would cost in the region of €13m to carry out essential structural repairs on the building, and €40m to restore it to its former glory.

Online Editors