Kilkenny Imam Ibrahim Nadure has described a decision by An Bord Pleanála to reject plans for a mosque and Islamic centre as “crushingly disappointing.”
“It was something very painful in the heart,” he told RTE radio’s Morning Ireland.
The proposal by the Kilkenny Islamic Trust for a mosque and Islamic centre at the Hebron Industrial Estate on the edge of the city was granted planning permission last year by Kilkenny County Council.
However, a number of appeals were lodged with the board and a decision was made this week to overturn the council’s decision.
The proposed development included a mosque, a two-storey community building, two guest apartments, two two-storey four-bedroom semi-detached houses, classrooms, a café and a halal shop.
Imam Nadure said that the Muslim community in Kilkenny just wanted a place of worship. They have been renting premises for the past 11-12 years.
“Our community is growing, we have been paying rent a long time. It is high time we have our own Islamic centre. We wanted to start the process of moving to our own place.”
He said that when the planning process commenced there was much misinformation with false claims that there would be a call to prayer, that property prices in the area would drop. “These were meant to generate fear.”
The Imam added that a public meeting held to allay local fears had been “brutal and harsh.”
The Islamic community will now address the points raised in An Bord Pleanála inspector’s report to see what will be the next step.
“This whole process has taken a lot of time and resources. The response is something very painful in the heart.”
He described as “totally insensitive” a comment by local election candidate Michael McGrath who described the decision as “better than an All-Ireland victory”.
“We are absolutely peaceful, very kind. 70% of the doctors in the hospital here are Muslim. We just want a place to worship.
“Most of our children were born here, they go to school here. Is it too much to ask for a place to worship?”