Wednesday 21 August 2019

Woman who lives above church loses case over noise pollution from drums

Sandra Broderick
Sandra Broderick

Gordon Deegan

A woman who complained that church-goers were making too much noise using loud drums and amplified music has had her noise pollution case thrown out of court.

Sandra Broderick's apartment at The Grove, Kinnincha Road, Gort, Co Galway, is above a premises used by the Assembly of God Church for its services.

She took the noise pollution case under the Environmental Protection Agency Act before Ennis District Court.

Ms Broderick told Judge Patrick Durcan said she had "no issue with the church being here at all. It is just too loud".

"I'm at the age now where I am thinking of having a family but I couldn't do that with the noise and that should never be the case in a residential area," she said.

The judge visited the church and Ms Broderick's apartment last week to give himself a better understanding of the issues involved.

Yesterday he threw out the her claim, saying the situation faced by Ms Broderick during church services "is a little bit like living over a busy pub at weekends - you have to take the consequences".

The church has services on Sundays and church musicians also meet at the premises during the week to practise.

Ms Broderick told the court yesterday that she met with church members at the weekend as well as Colman Sherry, the solicitor for the church's pastor, Mauri Fetoza, and they agreed on a maximum amplified sound level of 21.

She said the parties could not agree on the use of the drums. "There is no way of turning drums down. They are loud and that is it. The drums are the issue at the moment," Ms Broderick said.

Mr Sherry admitted in court that the drums are loud but argued they are "all part of the spiritual message".

"The drums are part of the inspiration, part of the spiritual nourishment, part of the sharing by the congregation of the positive vibes," he said.

Mr Sherry said he attended the service on Sunday and added: "I thought it was quite inspiring. Music inspires."

In his ruling, Judge Durcan said he was satisfied that the assembly of a number of people using musical instruments did in all likelihood cause a noise disturbance.

However, he said the reality was that Galway County Council granted planning permission to the Assembly of God Church for the unit to be used for public worship or religious services and for social and recreational activities in 2010.

He said he was taking the view that what happened at the church happened in accordance with planning permission.

The judge told Ms Broderick that if she bought her apartment after 2010 "you bought it with a problem there and if you acquired it before then, you had your rights under the planning acts to object".

The church has been operating in Gort for the past 17 years, with its mainly Brazilian congregation numbering around 150.

Irish Independent

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