Planning permission has been granted for a full mosque with a Muslim Community Centre on the outskirts of Tralee. However Kerry planners have stipulated “ there shall be no calling to prayer” from a public address system - anywhere on the site.
A decision on permission for a full mosque in Tralee had been stalled pending confirmation if a call to prayer public address system was to be installed in the 23 metre high minaret attached to the mosque.
Clarification was sought also on screening, parking and the provision of balconies in a residential part of the proposal.
The Muslim Community Centre in a separate building on the site is to have ten bedrooms.
The application, which is the second in recent years, was lodged with Kerry Council on behalf of the Kerry Islamic Cultural Centre in April.
The proposal concerns a 2.24 acre site in a business park at Killerisk, on the eastern edge of Tralee. The business park contains an Eircom exchange and is bounded by housing.
The mosque will have an 18 metre high dome, 23.6 metre high minaret ,parapets and assembly hall. It is primarily to act as a prayer centre for the local community, but accommodation for visitors is also proposed.
A large part of the traditional style mosque building is made up of a prayer area for men, with smaller and separate prayer quarters for women.
A previous application, last year, was refused primarily on the grounds of traffic concerns.
A full traffic study has now been included with this application and it says daily prayers begin at 4.30 am and end at 10 pm. Around 90 people will converge on the site for peak Friday afternoon prayers.
Since 2006 there have been a number of applications for Islamic prayer centres in the Killerisk area, which is a short distance from Kerry General Hospital, the Manor shopping centre and Kerry County Council headquarters.
Kerry County Council planners sought further clarification if a calling to prayer or other public address system is proposed to be installed to serve the development to protect the amenities of Tralee residents.
Dr Mohammad Altaf, representative for the applicant, The Kerry Islamic Cultural Centre, replied that the minaret while a traditional architectural feature was no longer used for a call to prayer.
Planners have now made it a condition that “there shall be no calling to prayer or other public address system either in the minaret or elsewhere on the site.”
Bedroom windows have been reduced in size and balconies raised in the accommodation area to minimize over looking of nearby houses.
No objections were received from third parties. However a group calling itself Pegida Ireland which is attached to a German anti-Islamic organisation had lobbied on the streets of Tralee against allowing a mosque.
Kerry has the highest number of Muslims outside of Cork, Dublin and Limerick, and Islam is now Kerry’s third biggest religion. Some 833 Muslims live in Tralee and over 1500 in all live in Kerry, according to 2011 census figures. However the numbers have increased since the census, it is believed.
Killarney has a growing Muslim population and An Islamic cultural centre was granted permission in the centre of Killarney earlier this year and is operating in an old Post Office/Telephone exchange building.