‘This is Kilkenny, not Mecca’: angry opposition to mosque plan
Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness calls for calm at heated meeting
A large crowd attended the meeting in Kilkenny to discuss the mosque planning application. Photograph: Pat Moore
Angry scenes marred a public-information meeting about a planned mosque that took place in Kilkenny on Thursday evening.
The meeting was requested by the Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness and his son Andrew, a Fianna Fáil councillor, in response to queries from local residents. “We are here to answer your questions and concerns,” Imam Ibrahim Ndure explained to the 200 or so people who had come to O’Loughlin Gaels GAA club for the meeting, which was intended to provide information about the planning application and planning process, and was attended by a planning expert and by the project’s architect.
Shouting and heckling dominated the two-hour event, however. Most of the audience members who made comments said they opposed the planned €5 million development, which includes a mosque, community hall, library, accommodation, halal shop and cafe. They said it might be close to a burial ground and could have a negative effect on local traffic and parking.
John McGuinness’s brother Eugene, who lives in the area, said to applause: “I have walked to every door in this area, all the housing estates, and 99.9 per cent of people do not want this building to go ahead.” His objection was to do with planning, not religion, he added.
Stephanie McDermott, from Kells, said that she had lived in Muslim countries and that Irish people were allowed to worship their faith in other countries.
But another speaker said: “We don’t want a mosque. This is not just for the Muslims of Kilkenny. They are going to come from all of Tipperary, Wexford. This is Kilkenny, not Mecca. Don’t be bringing people down here. Don’t build the mosque. We don’t want it. You have to respect our culture – for us to respect you, respect us first.”
The imam said Kilkenny’s Islamic community had been looking for sites for two years and asked anyone with an objection to raise it with the county council.
A suggestion was also made from the floor to build the mosque on Freshford Road, where the Kilkenny Muslim community has been renting premises for 10 years. The imam invitation everybody to visit that centre.
John McGuinness called for calm and said anybody who wanted to make an objection could do so before the April 19th closing date.