Scientologists accused of targeting children with playground and events – The Times

The Church of Scientology has been accused of “targeting” families with children as it has applied for planning permission to build a playground at its centre in south Dublin.

A notice was erected outside the group’s church and community centre in Firhouse over the weekend and outlines plans for a 17 sq m internal playground.

Carly Bailey, a Social Democrats councillor for the area, said that she was concerned by the development because the centre has already held a number of events aimed at children.

“They are absolutely without question targeting young people and families with young children. They had a six-week Christmas show with a full on carnival, real reindeer and free hot chocolate. There’s also been an Alice in Wonderland event and a Frozen event. They do anything you can think of for families with children,” Ms Bailey said. “We hear from people who are concerned but also from people who think that it’s here and it’s free so it’s fine. The point is we don’t know what it is they’re interested in. It’s clearly a long-term project given the amount of money invested in it.”

A spokesman for the Church of Scientology in Ireland denied it was targeting anyone and said that the decision to build the playground was taken after consulting with local councillors about what was needed in the area. He said that a rugby and GAA pitch would also open on the site in March.

Martina Genockey, a Labour councillor for the area, said that she had not met with the group as she had concerns about their presence in the area.

“I think Scientology is extremely cult-like, and I would not like to see local people caught up in it unwittingly by using facilities they have provided,” Ms Genockey said.

“The council has a significant play-space programme, and any playgrounds that were needed were considered as part of that plan. I know there is a playground just down the road.”

Diana Stahl, the director of public affairs at the Firhouse branch of the Church of Scientology, said that over 4,500 people have visited the centre since it opened. It is understood that only 100 people attend services in the church every Sunday.

“We have held a number of very successful events for the community and will continue to do so, as we believe that helping people and bringing joy into the community is a natural part of life. We welcome anyone to come in and visit, to have a tea or coffee, use the facilities or if they wish they can find out what Scientology is,” Ms Stahl said. “Children or anyone under 18 who wishes to do any course, or undergo any testing, are strictly forbidden to do so unless they have written permission from both of their parents or guardians. The church also supports effective social betterment programmes for the benefit of all.”

The Sunday Times reported last September that the Church of Scientology hired stands at a state-run education conference and asked school administrators for permission to make presentations to students. It has also hired stands at the TY transition-year exhibition attended by 7,000 secondary school students in Leopardstown.

The organisation bought the former Christian church in Firhouse for about €6 million. It was converted and opened as a centre for Scientology’s Irish operations last year. It has also purchased a school building in Co Meath which will be used for its controversial drugs treatment programme.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/scientologists-accused-of-targeting-children-with-playground-and-events-wfj8jn897

Ballivor’s resounding ‘No’ to proposed Narconon drugs treatment centre in the village – The Meath Chronicle

Residents of Ballivor have sent a clear message to Meath County Council, the HSE and Government that they will not tolerate the Church of Scientology and Narconon locating a drugs rehabilitation centre in their village.

Over 140 people turned out for the protest which was spearheaded by Cllr Noel French and Claire O’Meara of the Ballivor Says No campaign.

The scene of the protest was the former national school which was sold by the parish some years back.

In June 2016, the former primary school in Ballivor came on the market with CBRE, with a half-built nursing home development on the site.

The school building was refurbished and extended to accommodate a modern 15-bedroom nursing home, while on an adjoining 2.26-acre site, some foundations have been laid for a 41-bedroom extension. CBRE was asking €1 million for the ‘Raspberry Wood Nursing Home’ site. The agents are understood to have sold it to another agent, acting for a client.

In August of 2016 it’s understood the Narconon Trust applied to Meath County Council seeking a declaration that the site would be exempt from a change in planning. This was confirmed by the Council.

Cllr Noel French said he was heartened by the turnout for the protest. “The people of Ballivor don’t want this here. We have petitions out in shops, we need our TDs, our councillors, our senators, our ministers and our Toiseach to support this campaign.”

Deputy Shane Cassells said the village of Ballivor needed support and investment and not a facility from “such a shady organisation”.

“I’ve raised this issue on the floor of the Dail with the Taoiseach asking him if this is the type of facility he wants to see operating and the Taoiseach came back and said he certainly didn’t want to see any medical facility operate where there were no suitably qualified people and I’ll be holding the Taoiseach to his word on that so that we don’t have a Narconon drugs rehabilitation centre operating in Ballivor”.

Claire O’Meara of Ballivor Says No group said that the village was completely unsuitable for locating such a facility and she said the campaign to see the project stopped would continue.

http://www.meathchronicle.ie/news/roundup/articles/2018/01/17/4150930-watch-ballivors-resounding-no-to-proposed-narconon-drugs-treatment-centre-in-the-village-/

Scientology’s residential drug treatment centre is unregulated – Peadar Tóibín TD

In answer to a parliamentary question by Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín the Department for Health has admitted that there is currently no provision in legislation for the regulation or inspection of residential treatment or rehabilitation centres specialising in addiction.

The Meath West TD asked the question in relation to the proposed Church of Scientology Narconn drug treatment centre in Ballivor Co Meath.

Teachta Tóibín said;

“There is significant opposition and concern in Meath that this unregulated facility could negatively impact on local people.

“The Department of Health also stated to me that organisations which provide addiction services and are funded by the HSE are required to meet minimum standards in the delivery of services across a range of criteria which form the basis of any service level agreement.

“The Department went further and highlighted that there is no evidence to suggest that the drug treatment programme, provided by the organisation I had referred to them, would meet any of the criteria set out by the HSE for agencies that provide addiction services in its behalf.

“It appears that anyone can set up a residential treatment facility without accreditation and regulation in Ireland at the moment. To me this is a major gap in the state’s responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people.

“People in the grip of addiction are often at their most vulnerable. Over 80% of people presenting with substance abuse suffer with anxiety, depression and have backgrounds of trauma.

“The State has a duty of care and must protect these people. Surely Minister Catherine Byrne must start the process of developing minimum standards for all residential treatment or rehabilitation centers specializing in addiction. This process needs to happen now.”

ENDS//

Note: Please see PQ below

QUESTION*  To ask the Minister for Health if an organisation (details supplied) or its affiliate organisations has been granted certification, accreditation or a licence by organisations under the direction of his department to deliver health, education or addiction programmes; and if the organisation must have certification, accreditation or a licence to deliver health, education or addiction services here.

Peadar Tóibín T.D.Details Supplied: the Church of Scientology

REPLY

The advice of my Department would be that  anyone seeking treatment for addiction should contact their local HSE addiction service.The Department has no jurisdiction over agencies that provide private addiction services.

There is currently no provision in legislation for the regulation or inspection of residential treatment or rehabilitation centres specialising in addiction.Organisations which provide addiction services and are funded by the HSE are required to meet minimum standards in the delivery of services across a range of criteria which form the basis of any service level agreement.

There is no evidence to suggest that the drug treatment programme, provided by the organisation referred to by the Deputy, would meet any of the criteria set out by the HSE for agencies that provide addiction services in its behalf.

That organisation’s drug treatment programme comprises a series of interventions with limited or no basis in a scientific understanding of human physiology and brain functioning.

http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/47840