Angry locals expressed their opposition to a planned mosque at a public-information meeting in Kilkenny on Thursday.
About 200 people attended the meeting, which was requested by Deputy John McGuinness and Councillor Andrew McGuinness to provide information on the planning application and planning process in response to a number of queries from local residents.
“We are here to answer your questions and concerns,” Imam Ibrahim Ndure explained to the crowd of people who gathered at the O’Loughlin Gaels GAA club for the meeting.
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Shouting and heckling dominated the event, which lasted about two hours, The Irish Times reports.
Many members of the crowd said they opposed the €5 million development because it might be close to a famine burial ground and could also have a negative effect on traffic and parking in the area.
Local resident Eugene McGuinness, John McGuinness’s brother Eugene,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.”
He added: “It is about planning, it is not a religious argument.”
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.
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 the local Islamic community had been looking for sites for two years and asked anyone with an objection to raise it with the county council.
Someone suggested that the mosque be built on the Freshford Road where the Kilkenny Islamic community have been renting premises for the past decade. The iman invited people to visit the Freshford Road center.
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John McGuinness called for calm and said anyone who wanted to make an objection could do so before the April 19th closing date.
The plans for the proposed development consist of a mosque, a community hall, a library, residential accommodation, a Halal shop and a community cafe.