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The interior of the Iveagh Markets in Dublin. Michael Pidgeon

'Why are we letting it fall apart?': Criticism of likely 2026 finish for Iveagh Markets repairs

The work will focus on securing the crumbling structure rather than fully renovating it.

REPAIR WORKS ON the historic Iveagh Markets complex in Dublin’s Liberties may not be complete until 2026, according to the Department of Housing.

In a statement yesterday, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien – who last year described the repairs as “urgent” – said he looks forward to “seeing the works progress, the fabric of this beloved building restored and its future secured”. 

In September last year, the department announced it would “in principle” provide €9 million to go towards carrying out works to secure the derelict building – established in 1906 – which has fallen into disrepair after being left vacant for decades. 

The work will focus on securing the crumbling structure rather than fully renovating it for reuse purposes as the property is still at the centre of a legal dispute over its ownership. 

When the announcement came last year, local councillors and campaigners welcomed the funding but expressed disappointment and frustration with the projected timeline of the repair work, describing it as decades overdue. 

Local Sinn Féin councillor Máire Devine reiterated those frustrations today and told The Journal that the situation is not being treated as “an emergency”, saying the completion of the repairs “seems eons away”. 

Devine said she and other councillors, as well as local campaigners, are concerned about the fragility of the structure and its exposure to the elements, especially since part of the roof recently collapsed. 

In an update issued to councillors in January and seen by The Journal, Dublin City Council – which has responsibility for the project – said the section of roof that fell in was already rotten and would have been removed during repair work anyway. 

“Why are we letting it fall apart instead of having workers on site to safely remove whatever needs to come down?” asked Labour councillor Darragh Moriarty.

“The people of the Liberties and people of the city as a whole deserve better than watching this historic structure decay,” he said.  

Devine praised the efforts of locals in the Liberties and the heritage group Friends of the Iveagh Markets for keeping the issue alive but she lamented the slow pace of the process, describing it as “torturous”. 

Devine said that councillors have asked to visit the site but the response from the Council’s executive has been dismissive and “petty”. 

“Everything is slow,” she said, adding that the announcement today means the building will have to survive three more winters before the repairs are likely completed. 

Planned repair work

The planned repairs are set to be carried out in two stages.

In stage one, which is already underway, an Integrated Design Team (IDT) appointed by DCC is tasked with carrying out surveys and reports, clearing debris and vegetation and securing the site by creating access routes and installing safety features like crash decks. 

“The IDT have completed initial site examinations and commissioned and completed a range of surveys,” the DCC’s January update said. 

Stage two, which is not expected to begin until the third quarter of this year, will see the IDT given complete access to the site, allowing them to complete the design process and prepare tender documentation for the repair programme. Then the repair work can begin.

The works will include repairing roofs and gutters, protecting and securing windows, doors structural columns, repair walls and parapets and removing lead paint. 

Yesterday Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, said he was “delighted to see the continued progress of works to stabilise and secure the Iveagh Markets.

“The people of the Liberties are rightly proud of their historic market traditions and the forthcoming repair programme is a vital step in our collective efforts to rehabilitate this historic building.”

Devine, however, described yesterday’s announcement from the Department as “nothing new”, saying “we’ve heard this before”. 

Disputed ownership

The Iveagh Markets site has been the focus of an ongoing legal dispute between several parties, including developer Martin Keane, Arthur Edward Rory Guinness, and Dublin City Council.

Guinness, also known as Lord Iveagh, repossessed the market in 2020 citing the “reversionary” clause in the purchase agreement, which allowed the Guinness family to reclaim it if it was not developed as a functioning market. 

Keane, who owns the Oliver St. John Gogarty pub and Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar, has challenged the Guinness family’s claim to the property and the case has been in legal dispute ever since.

Dublin City Council secured the site in 2022 amid concerns over its deteriorating condition. 

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