Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Questions (24)

Joan Burton


24. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has held discussions with Dublin City Council regarding the renovation of a number of historic markets in Dublin such as the Iveagh Market on Francis Street; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45454/19]

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Oral answers (8 contributions) (Question to Culture)

This question relates to the historic markets in Dublin city. I am asking specifically about the Iveagh Market and the Moore Street market. The Minister has indicated previously that she has had some discussions on Moore Street with Dublin City Council. It would be a gross understatement to say that both Moore Street and the Iveagh Market are in a sorry state. They are in a vicious circle of decline. The buildings are dilapidated. Like other Deputies, I have been a member of the Moore Street advisory committee. I would like to know what level of progress is being made to give life back to Moore Street and to the Iveagh Market.

My role with regard to the protection and management of our architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.

Part IV of the Planning and Development Act gives the planning authorities primary responsibility for identifying and protecting architectural heritage by including particular structures on their records of protected structures. Inclusion on a record of protected structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and gives planning authorities the power to deal with development proposals affecting such structures and to seek to safeguard their future.

The Iveagh Market is a protected structure in the ownership of Dublin City Council. It is currently on lease from the council to a private developer. Therefore, the matter is primarily one between those two parties. As the owner of the Iveagh Market, the local authority has a duty under legislation to ensure the structure does not become endangered. My role with regard to protected structures is mainly advisory. However, officials from my Department have contacted Dublin City Council to ascertain its plans. They remain available to advise in any manner as required. Dublin City Council has informed the Department that it is actively pursuing the most efficient means available to it to ensure the Iveagh Market building is refurbished and returned to beneficial use. My Department has not discussed the renovation of any other historic market building with Dublin City Council.

The Department also provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the historic structures fund and the built heritage investment scheme, which are administered by local authorities. I announced funding of €4.3 million for 478 projects under these schemes in March but I understand, however, that the scale of investment needed for the structure mentioned would mean that the levels of grant funding available under those schemes would not be sufficient.

My officials will remain in contact with Dublin City Council about the Iveagh Market.

I asked if the Minister has held discussions about renovating a number of historic markets in Dublin such as the Iveagh Market. The Iveagh Market was just a particular example because its dilapidation is extreme.

The Minister is from Dublin and has responsibility for culture. There is an enormous opportunity for her to step in and play a vital role in saving the Iveagh Market which is in serious danger of permanent destruction given its dilapidation. I do not know if she has taken the opportunity to visit the market on Francis Street. That area is heavily patronised by tourists although, unfortunately, the theatre opposite the market was recently knocked down to make way for a hotel. I ask the Minister, given that she is from Dublin and has a knowledge of the city, to step in. She should use the great power that she has for a period of years to do something to save two really important features of Dublin.

What progress has been made on Moore Street? I thought the Minister was to take some additional initiatives.

I thank the Deputy for her comments. The Iveagh Market is not a matter for our Department, plain and simple. That is a matter for Dublin City Council and it is through the council that the Deputy or her colleagues should pursue the matter.

The cost of refurbishment, renovation and restoration is exacerbated, as the Deputy said, through the years of inaction from the council and the lessee. It is not fair to shift the burden of that neglect onto the taxpayer. Dublin City Council commissioned a report on the condition of the building earlier this year that estimated the cost of restoration at €30 million. That cost was what the report commissioned by the city council came up with. We did not commission the report because it is not our business to do so. It is a matter, in the first instance, for the council. The cost is in the public realm and is equivalent to the entire annual budget for the National Parks and Wildlife Service and three times our annual built heritage budget. This needs to be put into perspective because the solution is not to drop every poorly kept building in public ownership at the door of the Department. The city council has to step up because it is the owner.

I find the Minister's attitude quite extraordinary. I do not know if she has ever been to Francis Street, the Liberties or the Coombe, but the Iveagh Market is an extraordinary feature of the area. It is a famous and historical building. Not only is the word "culture" in the Minister's title but "heritage" is too. This is sad to hear from a Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This Government can spend millions and millions of euro on messaging and yet can allow an amazing building such as the Iveagh Market, which in other cities would be a vibrant market area drawing tourists and providing jobs for artisan producers, artists and the local community, fall into ruin. The Minister is missing an enormous opportunity, maybe through a lack of imagination.

I would like to know what are the next steps for Moore Street. Is Moore Street just being handed over to Dublin City Council? I would be sad if that was the case because the Government of which I was a member bought and secured the purchase of the houses in Moore Street where the ceasefire was signed in 1916 and the Minister knows there has been considerable discussion and significant work done by people across the House on this issue.

The Iveagh Market is in my constituency, is part of the built heritage and is housed in a gorgeous building that has been allowed to go into a state of severe dilapidation and dereliction over the years. The years of inaction is not because of Dublin City Council but because the council, foolishly in some ways, gave a lease to a developer who has sat on it and caused the dilapidation in recent years.

The Minister received a progress report from the Moore Street advisory group at the end of July or early August and there were a number of recommendations in that. I hope she will let us know what progress has been made in acting on those proposals.

We all admire the English Market in Cork. I disagree with my colleague because I think Dublin City Council has a huge responsibility for not developing the Iveagh Market. It has been another failure of responsibility from the management of Dublin City Council over the years, along with the Government.

We have received the recommendations about Moore Street and I know the Moore Street advisory group is of the view that there is an urgency to securing the national monuments at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. The advisory group has confirmed its support for the Office of Public Works in carrying out this process as soon as possible and opening up the houses to limited tours not later than summer 2021. We are looking at the recommendations and will be doing everything to support the expert advisory group on that.

I know the area around the Iveagh Market well and I know the Coombe having had both my sons in the Coombe Hospital. I have made it clear that my role is only advisory on this matter and, ultimately, I know that there are discussions and telephone contact, at least, occurring between the Department and Dublin City Council in order to try and assist the council with the Iveagh Market. The council is looking at its options and has committed to keeping the Department informed of its discussions with the developer who holds the lease whom Deputy Ó Snodaigh mentioned. I agree with Deputy Broughan that it is a matter for the council. The developer was advised by Dublin City Council that the estimated cost would be in the region of €30 million, as I mentioned already, and the entire project has been estimated at approximately €30 million. The council is awaiting the developer's comments on the projected financial cost of the project before it takes final action.