The Dundalk Ice Dome has remained vacant since it was bought by DKIT in 2014
Dundalk IT has paid nearly €190,000 in commercial rates to Louth County Council for the vacant Ice Dome building since it was acquired by the college in 2014.
Records released to the Democrat under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 show that the college has spent €189,413.23 on commercial rates for the Ice Dome since it was bought by the college alongside the JJB facility.
The college first paid rates on the building in 2015, where they paid out €29,541.
The total sum paid by the college has risen every year since then, with payment amounts between €15,000 and €29,000 paid by the college.
Labour TD for Louth Ged Nash, who has previously questioned the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, on the Ice Dome, said that “serious questions” needed to be answered by DKIT leadership over the rates bill.
“Serious questions have to be answered by the DkIT leadership over this,” said Deputy Nash.
“Racking up a cumulative rates bill of €190,000 for a facility that could have been occupied by a paying tenant really is beyond belief.”
He also said that the decision to keep the facility vacant was made during the recovery from the financial crisis, with higher education institutions struggling to get funding.
“It is important to recall that the decisions to leave the facility vacant was taken at a time when the State was recovering from the worst economic crisis it had faced and the higher education sector was fighting for every cent it could find.
“This makes this revelation all the more lamentable.”
The Democrat reached out to DKIT over the rates bill, with a spokesperson saying that the college is obligated to pay rates on the Ice Dome.
“The Institute is required to pay rates on this facility,” said a spokesperson for DKIT.
Due to the building being vacant, DKIT is only obligated to pay rates at 50%.
When asked whether or not the college was seeking to lease the facility, they said they were but would not provide any information on interested parties.
“The Institute is seeking to lease the facility. This is commercially sensitive information.”
Other national political figures have raised concerns about the property remaining vacant, with the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee writing to DKIT seeking their stance on the vacant property.
Chairperson of the PAC, Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley previously told the Democrat that the committee was “frustrated” by the building remaining vacant.
The Irish Ice Hockey Association also told the Democrat how they were previously negotiating with DKIT to lease the Ice Dome, due to it being the only purpose-built ice rink in the country.
Currently, the Irish hockey team is forced to travel to Belfast to train in Northern Irish facilities, as there is none available in Ireland.
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