Halal food on the rise in Ireland

By: Leanne Salmon

Halal shops and places which provide halal food are on the rise in Dublin city due to the increase in the Muslim community according to a local Imam.

Imam Yahya Alhussein of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland on the South Circular Road, mentioned that he has seen a big increase in halal shops since he arrived in Ireland from Sudan 34 years ago.

Islamic Foundation of Ireland
The Islamic Foundation of Ireland (left) beside the Mosque on Dublin’s South Circular Road.

“I’d certainly say that there’s an increase in halal food shops. There’s a big difference from the time when I came to Ireland in 1983, which was 34 years ago.

“At that time, you could count how many halal shops were in Dublin. There were maybe two or three halal shops,” said the Imam.

In Dublin today, the Imam said that it’s hard to put a figure on how many halal shops and restaurants are in Dublin.

“There could be other personal reasons but the main reason is the increase in Muslim population,” said the Imam when asked for a reason for the rise in Halal food outlets.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show, there were 49,204 Muslims in Ireland in April 2011, with this figuring increasing to 64,200 Muslim people in Ireland in April 2016, which is a 28.9% increase in five years.

The Islamic Foundation of Ireland is the main organisation that certifies halal meat and dairy food due for exporting from Ireland to Muslim countries.

Halal food is different to regular food due to the treatment of the animal before it is slaughtered, explained the Imam.

“The animal has to be slaughtered in a certain manner before it dies. Most importantly is that the animal has to be alive and unconscious before it is slaughtered,” he said.

To become certified, the process for different halal businesses vary, said the Imam.

“If it’s a processing plant, all the ingredients used must meet halal requirements and the manufacturing process must be in accordance with the halal requirements.

“If it is a slaughter house, then the animal has to be slaughtered by a Muslim slaughter man and also at the time of the de-boning, the meat from halal must not mix with that which is not halal,” said the Imam.

Jerusalem Restaurant on Camden Street Lower is one of many halal shops and restaurants in the area. The restaurant was set up in December 2013 and has approximately ten employees.

Jerusalem Restaurant
Jerusalem Restaurant on Camden Street, Dublin

The menu is made up of halal food. The owner, Nash Basel, said that Irish people are the largest consumers of the food in the restaurant.

“I’d say 90% of our customers are Irish. There’s not many Muslim diners. We cater a lot for groups of weddings and finger food events for Muslims more than they eat in the restaurant,” said Mr Basel.

The people of Dublin are very accepting of the Muslim community and the increase in halal shops, as civil servant Gillian Lynch mentioned.

“I think the needs of Muslim people have to be provided for and at the end of the day, everyone has to make a living.

“If people need it, why not give it? We cater to everybody else’s needs so what’s the difference?” said Ms Lynch.

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