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Protests to mark opening of new Scientology base in Ireland – The Irish Times

Protesters against the Church of Scientology will demonstrate outside its new base in south Dublin on Saturday.

The church has purchased the former Victory Outreach Centre in Firhouse Road for a reported €6 million as a place for its members to study and hold meetings. Such venues are known in scientology as “ Ideal Orgs ”.

The protesters, many of whom are ex-members of the church, will gather for what they anticipate will be the opening of the centre by Scientology leader David Miscavige.

The Victory Outreach Centre was formerly used as a Christian church. It accommodates 1,200 people, but the Church of Scientology has just 87 members in Ireland according to the 2016 census.

Nevertheless, the organisation also set up the National Affairs Office of Ireland in Merrion Square last year. Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard lived in Merrion Square for a time in the 1950s.

On its website the organisation says its purpose in Ireland is to “hope for a better world and for happier lives, and to share the practical solutions that turn those hopes into reality”.

Dialogue Ireland Trust director Mike Garde, who has spent decades investigating cultism, said the aim of Scientology is the “infiltration of Irish society” despite having very few members in Ireland.

He said the cost of the building will be used as a tax write-off in the United States.

“Why would they want to have a massive Georgian building in sight of the Dáil? It’s called a trophy construct,” he said.

Mr Garde said the warm reception given in 2013 to the actor Tom Cruise, the most famous scientologist follower and an influential member of the church, convinced the leadership that Ireland will be a soft touch.

Ex-scientologist Pete Griffiths suggested that setting up such a huge operation in Ireland made no sense given the minimal number of followers it has in Ireland. “The words white elephant come to mind,” he said. “I think it is just to convince the membership Scientology is expanding when in fact it is shrinking.”

He suggested that, although membership is shrinking, the church itself remains very wealthy and can afford premises like the one it has purchased in Firhouse.

Mr Griffiths said he was “99 per cent” certain Mr Miscavige will be at the opening on Saturday. “He has never missed the opening of an Ideal Org worldwide,” he said.

Scientology was founded by L Ron Hubbard in 1952. It has been dogged by controversy from the beginning and described as a brainwashing cult.

It operates a policy of disconnection where members are encouraged to distance themselves from their families if family members do not agree with their beliefs.

Local Fine Gael councillor Brian Lawlor said the church had originally wanted to open the building to the public on Saturday but chose not to when protesters started to show up outside.

Mr Lawlor said he discovered an invoice addressed to the “Church of Scientology Ireland Community Centre”in July which was the first indication that the building was being purchased by the organisation.
“From the emails I have got about them, I am very sceptical about their intentions,” he said.

Phonecalls and emails to the Church of Scientology in Ireland were not answered.

Vast Scientology complex to be opened in Dublin tomorrow amid mystery about what it will be used for – The Irish Independent

The head of the Church of Scientology will visit Ireland tomorrow for the grand opening of their vast new centre in Dublin.

Church of Scientology head David Miscavige will supervise the ceremonies to mark the launch of the new complex at Firhouse in Dublin.

The centre – dubbed an ‘Ideal Org’ in church language – was developed in a complex previously used as a Christian facility.

In 2013, the property involved was the focus of High Court proceedings by the Bank of Scotland over an €18m debt.

It has not been used as a religious centre for four years.

The Church of Scientology is understood to have purchased the property via a third party last year.

The complex was purchased for a reported €6m – less than half what it was valued at in 2010.

However, the future purpose of the huge complex remains shrouded in mystery, with some church experts predicting it could be used as a new European headquarters.

The ‘Ideal Org’ comes complete with a conference centre capable of hosting more than 1,100 members.

That is several times the total estimated number of Church of Scientology members in Ireland. Two centres are already operated at Middle Abbey Street and in Merrion Square.

It is understood that the new Firhouse complex will be operated by a staff of up to 250, all of whom will be foreign volunteers.

An official at the Church of Scientology centre in Middle Abbey Street declined to comment on the matter.

The opening date for the new Church of Scientology in Firhouse has been revealed – DublinLive

The Church of Scientology is to hold a grand opening of its new “Ideal Org” at the former Victory Centre in Firhouse on October 14 next week.

The property was bought last year for around €6 million, €12 million less than what it was valued at seven years ago.

The new premises comes complete with a 1,100-seat ‘grand auditorium’, even though the 2016 Census only recorded 87 Scientologists in Ireland.

Mike Rinder​, former Executive Director of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs describes the Ideal Org strategy as a “real estate, money making scheme and PR campaign for internal scientologists”.

Some 250 Scientologists are being recruited from around the world to staff this new HQ. Nwoga Chukwuebuka Paschal, an African recruit for the Dublin centre, posted on Facebook that he had signed a five-year contract.

He revealed: “I am the first Nigerian to be signed by the Dublin mission but will never be the last. I will probably spend more time abroad within these five years, but will surely have time to bring every good news or package to Nigeria or Africa.”

Pete Griffiths, an ex-Scientologist from Co Mayo, said: “From 1987 to 2008, the thought control was all in place. Then a lengthy unravelling process began.

“I got so angry that I burned any Scientology stuff I had lying around in a bonfire. I couldn’t look at it any more. The sense of betrayal is just incredible. The clues are all there, but you don’t see them.”

David Miscavige, leader of the Church of Scientology since the death of L. Ron Hubbard in 1986, will be in Dublin for the opening.”

Scientologists set to convert church – The Sunday Times

Religious movement preparing to bring in 100 staff to operate Victory Centre in south Dublin as training camp for new recruits

The Church of Scientology says it is recruiting 100 staff to help to run a new Irish training centre in a former Christian church in Firhouse, south Dublin, that it has bought for €6m.

The movement, considered a cult in some countries, has set up a Facebook page with pictures of the staff it claims to have recruited for its Ideal Ireland Org.

The pictures purport to show new recruits from around the world receiving their Scientology accreditation after completing various levels of training at one of the group’s bases.

There are also photographs of the recruits arriving at Dublin airport and entering staff apartments, said to be a temporary measure until “we move into the new building” when “they will move into the beautiful staff housing”.

Photos were also posted of a recent event at Scientology’s British headquarters in East Grinstead, Sussex, southern England, where green cupcakes were distributed to encourage members to sign up as recruits for the new Irish centre.

The pictures and posts were removed on Friday after The Sunday Times asked the church about its plans for Dublin.

Among the few Irish people in the photos was Michael O’Donnell, a long-time member of the church in Ireland. The caption said O’Donnell was the senior “C/S Dublin” and had completed his new era dianetics auditor course and “Class IV internship”. Dianetics is a pseudo science of ordering one’s mind invented by the science fiction author L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

Brian Lawlor, a Fine Gael councillor, has this month obtained an invoice showing the Church of Scientology was paying for the renovation of the Victory Centre, the former Christian church in Firhouse, with a 1,300-seater auditorium and other facilities. An invoice for light fitting gave a shipment address as the Church of Scientology Ireland Community Centre.

The Victory Centre was put on sale by Bank of Scotland Ireland after its previous owners, the Victory Christian Fellowship, ran up debts of €18.5m. Goldman Sachs is reported to have bought the centre before selling it to the Scientologists.

The Church of Scientology has declined to explain its plans for Firhouse. Staff in Dublin and London insist questions must be emailed, but no response has been received since July 5.

Lawlor said his multiple attempts to engage with the church had been ignored. The sect has celebrity members such as the actors Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Elisabeth Moss.

Nwoga Chukwuebuka Paschal, an African recruit for the Dublin centre who spoke to The Sunday Times via Facebook, said he had signed a five-year contract. He had no idea what he would be doing in Ireland, as this would be determined by how well he performed in his training in America. “I am the first Nigerian to be signed by the Dublin mission but will never be the last,” he posted. “I will probably spend more time abroad within these five years, but will surely have time to bring every good news or package to Nigeria or Africa.”

Lawlor said the Victory church had let a creche for more than 60 children operate in the building, while a youth club had also used the facility. He said he would not encourage anyone to use the centre because the Scientologists were refusing to engage with the community.

“I have been contacted by people whose family members have had bad experiences after getting in with Scientology,” said Lawlor. “It’s a real shame this facility has been lost to the community as it would have made a great school. My contacts tell me this is to be a training facility for [the Scientologists] . . . They have shown no community spirit — by refusing to engage with local representatives — so it’s not a good start.”

Last week security on the site tried to stop a Sunday Times photographer taking pictures of the Victory Centre.”