35 unauthorised 'places of worship' found in city
DUBLIN City Council has identified 35 unauthorised churches and other places of worship over the last 15 years.
The council said that 29 cases have been closed or resolved, while six enforcement orders were ongoing.
These were cases involving the alleged change of use of a building to a place of worship.
The council said that it didn't keep details on the type of religion or faith that used unauthorised properties.
"The issue we would investigate is an unauthorised change of use. Obviously we are obliged to investigate all valid complaints received," a statement said.
The figures, which were released to councillor Mannix Flynn, also showed that since 2004 there have been 15 planning applications to change the use of a building to a place of worship. Of these, 14 were successful.
The majority of the applications were from minority religious organisations.
The most recent of these was for the Redeemed Christian Church, a church which originated in Nigeria.
On October 9, the council granted the church planning permission to change the use of a property on Lee Road, in an industrial estate in Finglas, to a place of worship.
In 2008, the Destiny Church, a non-denominational Christian church, was granted permission to change the use of a property on Foley Street for religious worship.
According to planning records, an application to change a factory on Rutland Place into a place of worship, by the Pentecostal Assembly of God Ireland Ministry, was deemed invalid.
Cllr Flynn said that the council needed to develop a strategy for dealing with such developments.
"These things have been popping up all over the place and I'm not sure the council is across it in terms of planning.
"Even as the Catholic Church is losing congregation, these churches are gaining congregation," he said.
"There is a phenomenon in the UK where derelict buildings are being used and there is a lot of singing and a lot of dancing going on. But there are planning issues, such as fire safety issues and parking issues," he said