‘Do not go near them…it will destroy you’ – Irish Independent

‘Do not go near them…it will destroy you’ – Ex Scientology worker issues warning over church

A man who became involved with the Scientology movement in Dublin has issued a warning to those thinking of joining to stay away, claiming: “You end up with nothing.”

Zeni Bundo, who was a member of the new Scientology European Headquarters in Firhouse, warned: “Do not go near them. You will destroy your family and yourself.”

In an exclusive interview, the 31-year-old said he worked at the centre. He described the Firhouse base as a place where the goal is expensive health programmes as well as employing staff at below the minimum wage.

Zeni, who has left the Scientology group, said he was told to take a massive number of tablets as part of a ‘purification’ regime which cost him €1,800 to undergo. He is seeking legal advice regarding his employment, and will assist authorities in employment and revenue sectors.

In a statement, Scientology moved to clarify that all of the centre’s staff are in fact “religious volunteers”.

Zeni came from Albania 10 years ago and has lived and worked all over Ireland.

In September last year, a friend of his who had been involved with Scientology introduced him to the group, which was about to open its flagship HQ in south Dublin.

“I thought I could maybe get a job there, and that was the aim. It looked really modern and new and I thought it could be a good place to work,” said Zeni.

His girlfriend became involved and he said the Scientologists flew her to LA for a month for training – it made him think that it was a professional organisation.

“Then one of the guys in there said I needed to do a programme, and there was others too who were saying it would purify me. I didn’t believe them, but then there was more people saying it, and at that stage I started to think maybe I would become a better person. In the end, I agreed to do it,” he added.

“When I look back, I see I was being pushed into it, being told I had problems and they could cure them.”

He said he received a large box of tablets, mainly labelled as vitamins, which he was to take daily. “You have to take them for a month, many, many tablets every day, and do five hours in a sauna every day too.

“I started getting headaches but they would not let me take Panadol or anything. I would like to get the tablets tested and see what is in them,” he said.

As well as doing the ‘purification programme’, Zeni said he was given a job working in the café and restaurant.

“They were paying me cash in hand, which I was not happy about. I have been in the country 10 years and want to work properly and officially and pay tax and make sure all my papers are in order. I asked them many times about organising tax but they kept putting it off.”

When approached for comment, the Church of Scientology categorically denied any breach of employment law.

In a separate statement, Scientology Ireland said that in order to qualify as a volunteer, an applicant must be a “devout member” of the church.”Each volunteer makes a religious pledge to actively forward the work of the church out of a deep personal commitment to Scientology,” they said.

“All of our churches around the world comply with the law in each jurisdiction in which they reside, and the Church of Scientology & Community Centre of Dublin is no exception.”

They added: “The centre is entirely a non-profit religious organisation. Its only purpose, and the only purpose of Scientologists who volunteer their time on staff, is to help people.”

Zeni said that at the end of his ‘purification’ course, he felt no better than at the start of it.

“But I could not admit to that. If I told them I was the same, they would recommend another course called ‘survivor rundown’ and charge me more money.

“This is how they survive. They brainwash you and take your money,” he said.

“My girlfriend was there at the same time as me. She still is there but we have split now. Scientology separates you from your family and your friends. You end up with nothing,” he said.

He left in November as his ‘purification’ came to an end. Zeni said he was told to sign a document saying he would not speak out against Scientology.

“They do this to frighten you, but it is worth nothing. I have a voice. I have seen what I have seen and now I am speaking out, and my message to everyone else in there is to do the same.”

Looking back, Zeni said the aim of Scientology is to “target rich people and bulls*** them”.

“It starts with free courses to get you in and happy with Scientology, and then it is a course for €1,800, but the aim is to get €25,000 from you. I saw people spend €45,000 on courses,” he said.

The Irish Independent accompanied Zeni to the Scientology centre as he tried to get a copy of his employment contract but he was told he would have to apply in writing and wait up to 30 days for it.

They said they could not give it to him under the Data Protection Act.

The staff member would not answer questions on Zeni’s employment, but provided an email address to contact instead.

A spokeswoman for Scientology then replied to our questions by saying Zeni’s accusations were false. “The so-called allegation is also false, mischievous and dishonest. The Church of Scientology categorically denies any breach of employment law,” said Diana Stahl.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/do-not-go-near-themit-will-destroy-you-ex-scientology-worker-issues-warning-over-church-36483852.html

Scientology linked to plans for centre in Co Meath town – The Irish Times

Ballivor locals, annoyed at being ‘stonewalled with secrecy’, plan to protest at the site next week

For the last several months rumours have circulated in the small Co Meath town of Ballivor suggesting that its abandoned national school had been taken over by a controversial drug rehabilitation group linked to the Church of Scientology.

Locals have been so concerned with the rumours that community meetings have been organised with Scientology representatives invited to attend.

But until now that’s all they were, rumours. Scientology’s spokeswoman in Dublin repeatedly said she had no knowledge of the facility and insisted the drug treatment operation, Narconon, was an entirely separate organisation to the church.

Scientology’s Dublin operation declined to send a representative to a meeting of Ballivor locals to alleviate their concerns last month, while requests for comment from Narconon in the UK went unanswered

On Friday, The Irish Times confirmed the facility is closely linked to Scientology, forming part of the organisation’s efforts to insert itself into many aspects of Irish society including the educational and charity sectors.

Land Registry documents for Co Meath show the site was purchased in January 2017 by Ryan Alabaster, represented by the law firm Noel Smyth & Partners.

When asked by phone on Friday whether Mr Alabaster was available to talk, a staff member at the Church of Scientology national affairs office in Merrion Square said Mr Alabaster was not in the office but had visited Ireland a number of times in recent months to work on a “project” in the country.

The staff member also confirmed that Mr Alabaster “moves around a lot” and that he is based in the US.

A further request for comment from the Church of Scientology went unanswered.

Noel Smyth & Partners represented Scientology’s Irish operation in a 2013 High Court case in which a former member sued for the return of money he had given the church. The firm also represented Scientology in a 2003 case where another former member sued the church alleging conspiracy, misrepresentation, breach of constitutional rights and deliberate infliction of emotional harm. The case was settled.

While the Church of Scientology denied any connection to the treatment programme, the Narconon methods are advertised on the scientology.ie website as “procedures to alleviate the mental and physical anguish connected with drugs” through a rehabilitation process which eliminates all drug residues from the body. The main treatment involves subjects spending hours in a sauna while taking huge doses of vitamins.

In 2012, Oklahoma authorities investigated several deaths at the state’s Narconon facility before revoking its medical permit.

Health Service Executive (HSE) representatives have previously stated aspects of the treatment have no standing within the medical community. Asked for comment, a HSE spokeswoman said it has no involvement with the plans.

The new owner of the Ballivor site is yet to apply for permission to change the purpose of the development. Documents lodged with Meath County Council still state its intended use is as a nursing home.

Cllr Noel French (Fine Gael) said he first aired his concerns last October, and that these have increased as the months have passed.

“We have tried to find out what the building is going to be used for but we’ve been stonewalled with secrecy. Why all the secrecy over a nursing home in the middle of a town with 1,700 residents?

“At the minute contractors can finish the building up to planning permission regulations, which is what they are entitled to do. We can’t legally challenge this venture – whatever it is – but we would like to take a stand and get it out there that the community of Ballivor don’t want it.”

Mr French added: “Ballivor is vulnerable place as it is. There is only one bus in and out of the village and no GP. We do not need a ‘wellness centre’ or anything else remotely associated with the teaching of the Church of Scientology.

“We have fear over the lack of information and that fear, at the minute is our power unless we get transparency,” he said.

Locals have planned a protest at the site for next Wednesday. Local resident Claire O’Mara said one of the most worrying aspects about the development is the secrecy.

“Is it the Church of Scientology, is it Narconon? Are they the same thing? We are being told nothing and that’s scaring us into operation,” she said. “There is 24 hour security on site, whose car registration plates are all blacked out. This centre would give the wrong impression of our town” Ms O’Mara continued.

“There’s less of a chance to shut it down once it’s opened so we will do all we can now, unless we receive information to ease our concerns.”

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/scientology-linked-to-plans-for-centre-in-co-meath-town-1.3353705

Residents of small Meath town to protest suspected Scientology site – Irish Examiner

Residents of small Meath town to protest suspected Scientology site

Determined residents of a small Meath town are intent on protesting at a site they believe has been bought by an off-shoot organisation of the Church of Scientology, writes Louise Walsh.

Pots, pans and everything loud will be used to make a racket at the protest in Ballivor next Wednesday by residents who say they are highly concerned at the lack of information surrounding the recent sale of a building, which has planning permission for a 54-bedroom nursing home.

Over 170 people of the village’s 700 houses recently attended a public meeting to discuss what they believe will be Church of Scientology involvement in their community.

The building, beside the local community centre and garden, national school and soon-to-be-build playground, will be, according to the group, allegedly used as a ‘wellbeing centre’ by Narconon – a drug rehabilitation organisation which holds affiliated beliefs with the Church of Scientology.

A rota has been organised for a round-the-clock protest at the site while a petition, placards and a Ballivor Says No Facebook page have all been orchestrated in their fight

The petition for Meath Co Council and local TDs has been placed in all local businesses.

Ahead of a local meeting last December, a late minute reply was received by the Church of Scientology which said that ‘Narconon’ is a secular programme separate to the church here.”

The residents say that their own research has discovered the name of the new owner though a land-registry search – a name, they allege is associated with the Church of Scientology.

Much mystery surrounds the new owners and the future purpose of the building, despite the best efforts of the residents who claim that even the car registration plates of the security on site are covered in black.

Local Fine Gael Cllr Noel French first aired his concerns last October, which increased as the months passed.

“We have tried to find out what the building is going to be used for but we’ve been stonewalled with secrecy. Why all the secrecy over a nursing home in the middle of a town with 1700 residents?

“At the minute contractors can finish the building up to planning permission regulations, which is what they are entitled to do. We can’t legally challenge this venture – whatever it is – but we would like to take a stand and get it out there that the community of Ballivor don’t want it.

“Ballivor is vulnerable place as it is. There is only one bus in and out of the village and no GP. We do not need a ‘wellness centre’ or anything else remotely associated with the teaching of the Church of Scientology.

“We have fear over the lack of information and that fear, at the minute is our power unless we get transparency,” he said.

“Amazingly the Church of Scientology in Dublin has said it has no interest in Ballivor and has referred requests for information to Narconan, which they say is a secular organisation”

Local resident Claire O’Mara is getting her loudest kitchenware ready for the protest.

“Is it the Church of Scientology, is it Narconon? Are they the same thing? We are being told nothing and that’s scaring us into operation.

“We have asked for clarification and have received very little .

“We found out the name of the registered owned and someone cheekily rang the Church of Scientology in Dublin to ask for him, without saying who we were. We were told he wasn’t there at the minute but that a message would be passed on.”

“We are not equipped for what would be the largest Narconon centre in Europe. If, what we suspect is true, we are bewildered as to why they picked to have a centre in the middle of a small town.

“There is 24 hour security on site, whose car registration plates are all blacked out. This centre would give the wrong impression of our town.

“Next Wednesday, at 2pm, I’ll be making a sh*t load of noise with pots and pans and my wooden spoons and I’m going to drum the place down.

“There’s less of a chance to shut it down once its opened so we will do all we can now, unless we receive information to ease our concerns.”

Both Narconon and the Church of Scientology were contacted for comment but no reply had been received at time of publication.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/residents-of-small-meath-town-to-protest-suspected-scientology-site-822470.html

Protest planned for ‘Scientology building’ in rural Meath – Irish Independent

A group representing people who have been former members of the controversial Church of Scientology has said it will be joining locals to protest at a site next week that it claims is to be used for drug rehabilitation programmes.

It says the former national school in Ballivor, Co Meath, was bought by the Scientology group at the beginning of last year and is currently undergoing refurbishment.

The Ex-Scientologists Ireland group says the Church, which recently opened a large base in Firhouse in Dublin, plans to run what is called a Narconon drug rehab centre at the Co Meath facility.

“The Narconon programme consists of running, very long sauna sessions and doses of vitamins and minerals many times beyond the safe limits, with serious potential side-effects including organ damage and death,” claims ex-scientologist Pete Griffiths.

The first public meeting about the Narconon development in Ballivor was held just before Christmas and attended by 170 people.

Land Registry documents show that ownership of the site was transferred to a man involved with Scientology, care of a named Dublin solicitor who is known to represent the Scientology church.

Local Fine Gael Councillor Noel French told the last meeting he would be objecting to the proposals for the site if a change-of-use planning application is necessary.

“I would not be happy that what many have described as a cult being present in our community and I will do what I can to prevent it coming into our community,” he said.

“I believe in everyone having their own religious freedom but cults are something else.

“I understand that what the Scientologists want to use the building for is a substance rehabilitation centre.

“I also do have a problem when unproven methods are used.

“Narconon International is an organisation that promotes the theories of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard regarding substance abuse treatment and addiction.

“I had hoped that the building would provide a retirement home and create a few jobs in the village as well, as they are badly needed,” he added.

A protest against the development is planned for January 17 at 2pm.

A public meeting is also planned for 8pm that evening.

Speaking about the protest next Wednesday, Cllr French told the Irish Independent he is “appealing for a big turnout”.

The Church of Scientology was contacted for comment on the Ballivor site and the church’s plans for it, but no comment was forthcoming.

Mr Griffiths, who was with the Scientologists for seven years before leaving and campaigning against them, said a consultant psychiatrist in substance misuse from the National Drug Treatment Centre stated last month that Scientology’s programme has no basis in science.

Hollywood actor Tom Cruise is among the high-profile names associated with the Church of Scientology, a body of religious beliefs and practices developed in 1954 by American science fiction author Hubbard who died in 1986.

The church has had a long presence in Ireland, beginning with a base in Abbey Street in Dublin.

It now has a property in Merrion Square as well as the facility in Firhouse which opened last October.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/protest-planned-for-scientology-building-in-rural-meath-36480933.html

Senior members Of Church Of Scientology move into Co Kildare country home – Sunday Business Post

Sect’s drug rehab spin out Narconon setting up 15-bed centre in nearby Ballivor, Co Meath.

The tiny village of Robertstown in Co Kildare – population 669 – is where the most senior figures in Irish Scientology are based, according to company filings.

Documents for the company behind the Scientologists’ enormous and expensive new community Centre in Firhouse show that three of the four directors appointed in the last two weeks are living in a modern ten-bedroom house called Mylerstown House in Robertstown.

There is one Irish director in the company behind the Firhouse centre, well-known Irish Scientologist Zabrina Shortt.

The three other newly appointed directors are Raphael Maximilian Stahl, who is German, and two Americans named Suzannah Howe and Chloe Bulger.

Bulger is a member of a high-ranking Scientology family.

Her mother-in-law is Lorraine Bulger, a director of the organisation in Britain, and was a friend of Scientology’s controversial founder, the late L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986.

All three live in the ten-bedroom house on the outskirts of Robertstown, which is mostly empty during the day, according to neighbours, though more than a dozen people live in it.

The residents are collected in two minibuses around 7 o’clock every morning, and usually don’t return until after 11pm.

Meanwhile Narconon, an offshoot of the Church of Scientology that describes itself as providing drug rehabilitation programmes “that have helped millions improve their lives”, is establishing itself in the small Co Meath town of Ballivor.

A nursing home development that foundered during the recession but still has live planning permission for a 56 bedroom care home facility was acquired in trust at the start of last year.

Developers are on site there and 15 rooms have been finished, with a deadline to complete within six months. Staff attached to the Narconon programme are in residence at a property in the area.

The Church of Scientology’s head of public affairs in Dublin referred requests from community representatives in Ballivor for someone at the church to attend a public meeting to outline its plans for the facility to Narconon, describing it as a secular programme that was separate to the Church of Scientology’s activity here.

A public meeting about the matter held just before Christmas was attended by 170 people, local Fine Gael Councillor Noel French said.

“The community are very concerned particularly with regard to the Scientology involvement in Narconon,” French said “We are also concerned at the lack of information in relation to this project.

Calls and emails to the Church of Scientology and to Narconon were not responded to on Friday.

John Duignan, a former Scientologist who lives in Ireland and wrote a book about the organisation called The Complex, said the amount of effort being expended in. Ireland is difficult to explain.

According to Duignan, “They’ve plonked down into Ireland around 150 staff, out of the blue. That’s unusual”.

Duignan says that in other missions – even in major cities like Madrid – the organisation has tended to send just a few high-ranking members and mostly use existing staff in the country.

“This thing in Firhouse, that’s a big operation because you’ve also got the Merrion Square office, and that’s all about government lobbying. And they’ve hired a big public relations firm as well, so they’ re putting a lot of status into this thing.””

https://www.businesspost.ie/news/senior-members-church-scientology-move-co-kildare-country-home-406215