AN BORD Pleanála has granted permission for the conversion of the three upper floors of two buildings on Talbot Street, in Dublin city centre, into a mosque, despite objections from local businesses to the development.
The Anwar-E-Madina mosque is the first inner-city mosque and the first to be located on Dublin's northside, according to worshippers. It opened last Thursday, after receipt of permission from the planning board, but it will not be permitted to broadcast prayers.
Dublin City Council had granted permission for the mosque last December. However, the decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by neighbouring business people who said the area, a busy commercial street, was not suitable for a mosque.
The mosque is located in the upper three floors of numbers 8 and 9 Talbot Street, backing on to the Department of Education buildings on Marlborough Street. The ground floor of number eight is occupied by the Rayhoon Italian restaurant, while number nine houses Langan Furniture on its ground floor.
Planning permission had been granted last year to use the upper floors of the building as a restaurant. These floors had remained vacant since 2006, before which they had been used for various non-retail commercial purposes.
Objections to the mosque were made by the owners of Langan Furniture, Rayhoon and the neighbouring discount store Euro Shop to both the city council and An Bord Pleanála.
Ray Ferris, owner of Euro Shop, said the mosque "will cause damage on my business and also would reduce my customers". He said it would also "not be a great idea" for other retailers, given that it was a commercial street. Keumars Zolfaghari of Rayhoon sited the same reasons in his objection.
Tony Langan, of Langan Furniture, said there could be "up to 250 people outside my door or the front of my shop while they are waiting or coming from the mosque".
Objections were also made in relation to the lack of parking in the area, the fact that the building was not accessible for disabled users and the unsuitability of the building.
A representation in support of the mosque was made by the Minister of State with responsibility for integration, Conor Lenihan, who said it would only be particularly busy on Friday nights, would bring business to the area - and most people would arrive by bus or on foot but could use the car park on Marlborough Street.
An Bord Pleanála inspector Jenny Kelly noted that a place of public worship was permissible within the zoning of the area and "the Pro Cathedral is located . . . a short distance from the site". There was "no evidence" that the proposed development would detract from the existing premises in the area, she said, and it was well-served by public transport.
The Irish Times