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The Iveagh Markets in the Liberties may have piles of dusty alcohol bottles in its doorways and arches, and shrubs sprouting from the walls.

And a recent council report detailed the damage that’s been done to building, noting that neglect and interventions had left it in an “advanced state of dereliction”.

But, the council said this week, this doesn’t mean it falls into the law’s definition of “derelict” – and the council has not moved to put the building on its list of derelict sites.

Derelict Sites Act

The Derelict Sites Act 1990 was brought in to prevent land or structures from becoming derelict, the act says.

The act defines a derelict site as any land that “detracts or is likely to detract, to a material degree from the amenity, character or appearance of land in the neighbourhood of the land in question”.

A building does this if it’s in a ruinous, derelict, or dangerous condition; it’s neglected, unsightly or in objectionable condition; or there’s litter, rubbish, debris or waste on it.

“The legislation is concerned with the visual aspect of a site,” a Dublin City Council spokesperson said.

“The internal condition of a building is outside the scope of the Act and is not taken into account when determining whether a site is derelict,” they said.

They said the Iveagh Markets building, although rundown and neglected, “has not at this point been declared derelict”.

The situation will be kept under review, the council spokesperson said.

Lauren Tuite, a former researcher into derelict sites, said the council is “really hesitant” about putting sites on the derelict sites register.

Tuite says she’s tried to bring “a number of sites” onto the register but has never been successful.

“They just don’t think it detracts from the material degree of any area,” she says.

She’s reported a vacant home across from hers that has ivy growing in through the window, but the council told her the site was considered “non-derelict”.

The 1990 act is “relativist”, she says. “You could argue if a building is derelict and everything on the street is in such a rundown condition, then it’s not detracting from a material degree.”

The Levies

Owners of properties that are classed as derelict can be charged an annual levy of 3 percent of the value of the site, and this is scheduled to rise to 7 percent after January 2020.

But the act treats sites owned by private individuals and those owned by local authorities differently.

According to the act, the levy must be paid on “urban land” – sites in an urban area which don’t include land owned by a state authority or local authority.

The general definition of “owner” in the act is “a person, other than a mortgagee not in possession, who whether in his own right or as trustee or agent for any other person, is entitled to receive the rack [full] rent of the land or, where the land is not let at a rack rent, would be so entitled if it were so let”.

Dublin City Council leased the markets to developer Martin Keane in 1997 – although the council is contesting the validity of that arrangement.

In addition to the levy, under the act, Dublin City Council can force the owner of a building to sell it to them, using a compulsory purchase order.

The report on the Iveagh Markets from earlier this month said that it would cost €13 million and more to restore the markets.

Aura McMenamin

Aura McMenamin is a city reporter.

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