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Locals mount opposition to new mosque planned in Lucan

South Dublin County Council approved plans last month for a centre and mosque for the area’s Muslim community.

Newlands Road, Lucan.
Newlands Road, Lucan.
Image: Google Street View

RESIDENTS IN WEST Dublin are seeking to reverse the recent decision of South Dublin County Council to grant planning permission for a large new centre and mosque for the area’s Muslim community.

Two groups of local people have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the proposed Lucan Islamic Community Centre planned for a site in Balgaddy.

South Dublin County Council approved plans by South Dublin Maktab, a registered charity, last month for the new centre and mosque off the Newlands Road.

They provide for the demolition of existing buildings on the site and the construction of a community centre and place of worship in a new detached, three-storey building which will also feature a minaret and dome.

The centre will include a prayer room and gallery, an exercise room, mortuary, prayer room, two classrooms, library, event room, childminding rooms, kitchen, restaurant and community health rooms as well as three retail units and two apartments. An underground car park will provide 69 parking spaces.

The Balgaddy Working Together Community Group, which represents people living in the Foxdene, Méile an Rí and Tor an Rí estates in Balgaddy, said they acknowledged the need for a centre to cater for the needs of the Islamic community but believed the chosen site is inadequate because of traffic levels and its proximity to a residential area.

Over 200 people signed an objection by the group which called on South Dublin County Council to consider a land swap with the charity by offering a site for the community centre and mosque in a more suitable area with better transport links.

“The planned development of Clonburris should be considered as the planning allows for places of worship and would be better suited to cater for a development of this size and capacity,” Donna Mayne, the group’s secretary, said.

Similar grounds of appeal have been made by another group of objectors from The Oaks estate in Balgaddy.  

South Dublin Maktab said it had been catering for the religious, spiritual, educational, social and cultural needs of the local Islamic community for several years from its current base on the premises of the South Dublin Football League at Ballyowen Park in Lucan.

The charity said its proposal for the new centre, which is located across the road from its current premises, arose out of the need to build a permanent facility for the Muslim community in the area.

It said the new centre would hold five prayer gatherings every day but did not anticipate that they would attract large crowds.

‘Much-needed amenity’ 

Dr Abudul Mughees, the charity’s chairperson, said the daily prayer gatherings would usually consist of 20-80 people with each session lasting about 20 minutes.

“There will be no amplified call to prayer through any external public address system,” he added.

Dr Mughees said the biggest attendance would be around 400 people for the weekly Friday prayer which is held from 1pm to 2pm. However, he said such a gathering might be divided into smaller groups in more than one session of prayer out of respect for the wider community by refraining from creating any excessive noise or disturbance.

“This issue of respect for others is central to the impost important purpose within our community of gathering for regular prayer,” he observed.

Dr Mughees said it was the intention that other facilities of the centre would be available for use for the benefit of the local community.

He pointed out that it was the intention to use the community health rooms for a low-cost limited GP service for all people living in the area, while the events room could be hired out for meetings and various social events.

However, Dr Mughees said the charity believed the religious and educational activities would have a priority over other activities and alcohol and smoking would be prohibited in the centre.

Plans for the centre were supported by two local councillors, Paul Gogarty (Ind) and People Before Profit’s Madeline Johannson.

Gogarty said the customised prayer, meeting and community facility would provide a more suitable location that could better handle parking and traffic issues.

He added: “The proposed building on a long-disused site, while visibly striking, appears sensitively designed so as to limit any potential impact on existing residents.”

“This is a much-needed amenity building and place of worship designed largely, but not exclusively, for a sizeable religious minority who have already been gathering in this area for some year and most of whom live locally,” Gogarty said.

He claimed providing such a facility was in the interests of proper planning and development of the area.
A ruling on the appeal is due to be delivered by An Bord Pleanála by 23 June.

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Seán McCárthaigh

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