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Publican Martin Keane alleges move by Lord Iveagh to repossess Iveagh Market is ‘illegal’

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Martin Keane Proprieter of The Oliver St. John Gogarty pub in Temple Bar. Pic Steve Humphreys 21st October 2016

Martin Keane Proprieter of The Oliver St. John Gogarty pub in Temple Bar. Pic Steve Humphreys 21st October 2016

Martin Keane Proprieter of The Oliver St. John Gogarty pub in Temple Bar. Pic Steve Humphreys 21st October 2016

Publican and hotelier, Martin Keane is alleging the move by Lord Iveagh to repossess the Iveagh Market in Dublin’s south inner city is "illegal".

The claim was contained in new accounts for the business behind Mr Keane’s Oliver St John Gogarty pub, in Dublin’s Temple Bar, which show the business continued to produce stellar profits before the Covid-19 enforced shutdown of the business.

The new accounts for Mr Keane’s Drayton House Holdings Ltd show the group recorded pre-tax profits of €4.9m in the 12 months to the end of last February 28.

The accounts addressed the move by Lord Iveagh to re-possess the Iveagh Market.

The market, which was built in the early 20th century by the Guinness family, has been derelict for more than 20 years and the subject of a legal battle between the council and Mr Keane.

Last month, the council confirmed that it was was notified by representatives for Lord Iveagh, a member of the Guinness family, that he had invoked the “reverter” clause contained in the original Deed of Conveyance dated July 1906.

“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 this morning and notified the Council accordingly,” a spokesman for the council said at the time.

In a note attached to the Drayton House accounts, it said a subsidiary within the group entered into a contract with Dublin Corporation to redevelop the Iveagh Market site in 2008.

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The market has been derelict for more than 20 years and the subject of a legal battle between the council and Mr Keane.

The market has been derelict for more than 20 years and the subject of a legal battle between the council and Mr Keane.

The market has been derelict for more than 20 years and the subject of a legal battle between the council and Mr Keane.

The note said a number of legal title issues relating to the premises and site have been ongoing since and still have not been fully resolved.

“In December 2020, action was taken by a third party attempting to take possession of the property,” it said.

“In the opinion of the directors, having taken legal advice, the action was illegal and the subsidiary company is seeking legal redress to correct this situation.”

The note added: “The directors are confident that the company’s legal action will be successful and the company will be able to proceed with the proposed development of the site.”

The note said the title continues to be held by Dublin Corporation, subject to the assertion of the third party noted above, and therefore legal title has not passed to the company and will not do so until such a time as the ongoing legal matters are resolved and the development is complete.

The note said in the event that Keane firm, Iveagh Markets Hotels Ltd fails to complete the development and that Dublin Corporation fails to transfer title, the deposit of €1.77m will be returned without payment of any interest costs.

Drayton operates the Oliver St John Gogarty pub and the nearby Blooms hotel in Temple Bar.

When open, the late night Oliver St John Gogarty has capacity for 100 people in each of its three bars and opens until 2.30 at weekends.

Mr Keane has operated the pub for over 28 years and revenues at the group last year declined marginally from €17.37m to €17.2m.

Higher costs resulted in pre-tax profits reducing by 15pm from €5.7m to €4.9m.

Addressing the Covid-19 impact in the group, the directors state that business for 2020 "will be significantly impacted” by the effect of Covid 19.

The directors said they are confident the group has sufficient reserves and strategies in place to be able to continue operations.

At the end of February the group had a strong balance sheet with accumulated profits of €56m. The group's cash increased from €14.3m to €16.9m.

Staff numbers reduced from 104 to 91 as staff costs increased from €3m to €3.4m.

Pay to directors, Martin, Martina and Vera Keane last year increased from €319,861 to €454,000.

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