This is all a matter of serious worry by 1308 Kilkenny residents of the area around the Nowlan Park GAA ground in such areas as Assumption Place, Bishop Birch Place, Lakeside, Hebron Road, Ossory Park etc as they now further await a decision that will affect adversely their everyday lives in their everyday homes.
Not a single councillor or TD as stood up for them, this is indicative of the fear-driven politics of modern Ireland where councillors and TDs duck and dive away from the serious issues facing the country, where political correctness rules the day to the great loss of local people such as these anxious residents of Kilkenny’s medieval city.
And there’s another side of the story. The mosque is set to tower over the new entrance road off the Dublin M9 motorway across the road from McDonalds in a contradictory grand entrance to what is billed as the medieval Norman-Irish city of Kilkenny.
Fears right across the marble city are that the mosque will detract from the theme city’s image, that it will create a credibility gap in the picture of Kilkenny that is sold to tourists all over the world and that is a big earner locally in tourism, that Kilkenny’s claim to fame as a theme Norman-Irish city could be endangered.
Others point to the prospect that Muslims could be attracted to the mosque from all over the South of Ireland with an even more disastrous effect on Ye Faire Citie’s image so carefully fostered over the years.
There is worry too that house prices could dive as a result. There are fears amongst locals that a ghetto around the mosque such as in Tottenham , London, could envelope their locality and transform all their lives for the worst forever.
There seems to be no bright side to the story except to the local Green party councillor Malcolm Noonan , who sees it as a great development in terms of diversity and multi-culturalism for Kilkenny, though his critics argue that there is plenty of both in Kilkenny right now and that he is guilty of left wing extremist globalism in the matter.
Even more sinister the chief opponent of the mosque who champions the objections of his friends and neighbours in the threatened area, Eugene McGuinness, has wronfully been slammed as a “racist” by Noonan and company. Councillor Noonan took to the national media to condemn “hatred” in his own city, he even claimed that he is ashamed to be a Kilkennyman because of the objections to the proposed mosque. Popular amongst the ladies , Noonan is backed by a couple of women journalists. He is also an accomplished writer and speaker so well able to drill all his feelings home.
Eugene McGuinness is seen as a demagogue seeking election – his brother John McGuinness is the local parliamtenary deputy and his nephew Andrew McGuinness, John’s son, a leading local councillor. Both John and Andrew were involved in a controversial public meeting that Eugene stormed and took over – Eugene is a very powerful local speaker who feels himself left out unfairly of the family’s political fortunes and now it seems that justice will be done next year when it looks like he will finally be elected to the Council to continue his late father’s legendary participation in the ancient city’s public affairs.
Deputy John McGuinness is in the thick of the action, convinced that his brother Eugene’s election campaign could unseat his own son, Councillor Andrew., though he has been careful not to disclose his own preferences in the matter. All this is playing in the background of the Mosque planning application to the local council while the local left like Cllr. Noonan has taken advantage of the issue to condemn the objectors as “haters” and “racists”.
And it’s noticeable that, like Noonan, the same people who led the Yes campaign in the recent abortion referendum are also for the mosque as they were for the gay marriage referendum. They also campaigned against the new bridge that is now proving to be a boon to local motorists and is a joy to walk and behold all the lovely vistas of the river Nore, the castle, the spires and the old mill. It’s obvious that Noonan and his lefties are ideologically driven as against the objectors who are non-political and concerned for the preservation and conservation of their neighbourhood that they feel is threatened by the huge mosque with a 70-foot high minaret set to dominate over all as it over-shadows the main city cemetery that is mainly Christian – there are masses of genuinely felt objections over this alone!
The Kilkenny Journal spoke to the Imam, a polished African gentleman, who claimed that hardly anybody would attend the projected mosque, “only about five or six regulars ” he said as he attempted to play it all down. The architect, local professional Martin Gittens, told us that the mosque must have a minaret as it’s traditional! We pointed out that Switzerland ( and now Austria) have banned minarets. We told Martin that the minaret would overlook bathrooms and bedrooms all across that part of the city, that as a result people would have no privacy – but he replied that there would be no access for anybody to the minaret tower, that in effect it would be a folly! we countered by asking Martin what he proposed to do with such a hollow minaret tower, fill it with cardboard boxes? He angrily retorted asking us not to put words in his mouth. But he is a supreme professional and a nice man.
There were no answers from any of the mosque builders when the financial side was brought up, but rather total vagueness and dismissal. We wanted to know how the estimated five million Euro to build the mosque was to be raised, and the only answer was local collections and sponsorship by wealthy local doctors. yet we couldn’t see how Kilkenny’s 700-odd Muslim community – with many here on welfare- could raise five millions.
Our researches also confirmed that the site itself could cost up to a million alone, that the developer actually owns the site and that he would hardly get so much for it from a normal everyday business purchaser. We felt that the mosque was being driven locally by money rather than religion, outside of course of the Imam and his fellows who are genuinely in love with the whole idea.
A lady put forward the eminently sensible suggestion at the meeting that the mosque would be better built at the present location of the Kilkenny Islamic Cultural Community centre on the Freshford Road , but her suggestion was totally discarded. But it was the most sensible, as many people agreed afterwards in view of all the massive traffic that the locals would have to endure and are even enduring through the week already from big matches in Nowlan Park and almost every day matches in the nearby O’Loughlin Gaels club just across the road from the proposed site of the mosque wirth all kinds of traffic congestion and disruption already suffered with match attendances up to 25,000 people and their cars. We believe that nobody has the right to inflict any further such suffering on the long suffering residents of St. John’s parish in Kilkenny.
Thus the issue has nothing to do with any type of racism or hatred whatsoever.