Plans for one of Ireland’s biggest mosques get green light

Neurosurgeon building Blanchardstown complex for family killed in arson attack

Plans for one of the largest mosques in Ireland have been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála in spite of local opposition.

The planning-appeals board has said the Shuhada Foundation of Ireland can build a four-storey mosque, community centre and primary school on the site of Warrenstown House, a former HSE facility in Blanchardstown, in west Dublin.

Dr Taufiq al-Sattar, a Dublin-based neurosurgeon, pledged to build the mosque in memory of his late wife, Shehnila Taufiq, who died along with their daughter Zainab (19) and sons Bilal (17) and Jamal (15) in an arson attack in Leicester, England, in September 2013. Its tapering steel minaret, from where Muslims are called to prayer, will be 29m (95ft) high, the equivalent of seven or eight storeys.

The board approved the development after finding that it would not seriously harm local amenities or property or cause a traffic hazard.


Planning appeal

Fingal County Council approved the plan last year, but it was then appealed by Patrick Regan, a former local resident, on the grounds of noise pollution, traffic congestion and lack of public consultation. A number of other locals lodged observations and a petition; they expressed concerns about the visual and aural impacts of minarets; excessive scale, overdevelopment and unsustainable development; lack of integration with the local community and creation of an exclusive community.

The council told the appeals board that the minaret will not be visually obtrusive and that any potential noise disturbance will be controlled by planning conditions. It also said the Shuhada Foundation of Ireland has indicated that the school and community centre will be open to everyone.

Plans for the development were first lodged in 2016. They were substantially revised and scaled down last year after the council raised concerns about the scale of the development.

Multicultural community

In his appeal Mr Regan said that Dublin 15 was “one of the largest and most welcoming multicultural communities in the county and [understood] the need [for those communities] to be provided with opportunities for worship”. But, he added, “the large scale and size of this project represents a major regional religious and cultural centre which will serve a huge area”. It would create “huge potential traffic congestion” and parking issues, as well as noise pollution.

“The call to pray can often start as early as 5.30am and the last call to pray at 9pm, causing noise pollution, with up to 150 worshipers attending at any one time during normal day prayers, without the celebration of Ramadan and other social events.”

The new mosque will be financed from Dr al-Sattar’s family fund, his life savings and donations from the Muslim community in Leicester. He also plans to raise funds from the medical community in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times