Permission for Muslim prayer centre appealed

by Emma Nolan
Swords Islamic Centre

Planning permission that was granted to change the old An Post sorting office on The Green just off the Rathbeale Road in Swords to a Muslim prayer and community centre has been appealed by residents.
The centre is to provide a community and prayer centre for around 300 members of the Muslim community in Swords. The council granted businessman and leading member of the Muslim community in Swords, Tariq Salahuddin’s application to change the use of the old building.
However, another local business owner, Paul McDonald of Fingal Glass Centre which is located on the Rathbeale Road has appealed the council’s decision due to the effect that the increased traffic from the centre will have on the street, thus preventing his company vehicles from accessing his premises.
McDonald explained his reason for lodging the appeal: “Basically the lane is only wide enough for one car to pass and if any car parks in the lane it will obstruct it totally.
“The existing premises has space for about 16 cars to park, but when the Muslim community met for prayer at St Colmcille’s GAA club nearby there were 35 cars parked there, so basically I don’t know where they’re going to park and that’s my main concern.”
McDonald feels that the added traffic on the road is “an accident in the making” and says that he has no objection to the Muslim community centre but urges that any public facility will need proper access and parking.
Salahuddin said that he was sorry to hear about the appeal and outlined many reasons why he thinks McDonald’s worries are unfounded.
He said: “Muslims believe that walking on foot to the prayer is more rewarding and the centre is easily accessible by public transport. Also, the existing car parking space is more than enough for those who may need to use cars.”
He also said that when the premises were used as the post sorting office, it had about 50 full-time employees and customers.
He said: “The heaviest usage of the centre will just be for one hour a week on Fridays. This will not generate traffic as much as it always was,” and urged that during that hour, members of the community centre will direct traffic at the lane.
“We believe it is natural that people will be cautious and may feel worried about any sort of change.
“However, we are confident that we will fit well together at the end. We promise the local residents that this centre will always be theirs.”
The council were unable to comment as the decision and appeal has been referred to An Bord Pleanala.

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