Muslims in Galway are to appeal their local council’s rejection of their efforts to retain a controversial mosque. It was operated without planning permission.
The Western Islamic Cultural Centre has lodged an objection with An Bord Pleanála, against the refusal, by Galway City Council, to grant it retrospective planning permission for the use of a house at Mincloon, Rahoon, on the western outskirts of the city, as a place of worship.
The application would have allowed the centre to continue to use the building for assembly for prayer in November.
The application had been opposed by a number of residents in the Rahoon area, who complained that there had been intensification of the use of the building, which was in a rural area without any public lighting or footpaths.
They claimed that a high level of traffic visited the mosque, on a road that was inadequate for such volume.
Locals said the suggestion, by the Western Islamic Cultural Centre, that the use of the building as a mosque was ancillary to its main use as a dwelling was incorrect.
“The primary use is as a place of worship, involving, at times, a large number of persons, meeting a number of times throughout the day,” said one resident.
The residents complained that a loudspeaker was used for some meetings and that the centre was open from 5am to 2am.
Galway City Council acknowledged that councillors had voted, in 2016, in favour of a material contravention of the Galway City Development Plan, against the advice of council planners to allow consideration of the use of specific lands in Mincloon as a place of congregation and worship for the city’s Muslim community.
However, the council said it was also obliged, under planning legislation, to consider all potential impacts of the development.
It ruled that the use of the building as a place of worship would pose a public health hazard, because its effluent- treatment system was inadequate for the numbers using the centre.
The council said the level of noise and traffic associated with its use as a mosque would adversely affect local residents in a quiet, rural area, while the capacity of the local road network was deemed inadequate to cater for the number of vehicles using the premises.
In its appeal to An Bord Pleanála, the Western Islamic Cultural Centre claims that special zoning allows for the use of the building as a place of worship.
It claims the building is used primarily as the residence of the local Imam.
“As is normal in a Muslim community, people call in to see the Imam, sometimes with their children, for prayer, advice, and to have the children blessed.
“There are gatherings at prayer times, although people call in socially throughout the day and evening,” said Niall Kearns, an architect advising the centre.
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