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Scientology community activity sparks concern in Firhouse – Irish Times

Residents and politicians in Firhouse have expressed concern about community outreach efforts by the Church of Scientology in the south Dublin suburb.

Last week the controversial organisation, which has been officially labelled a cult in several countries, opened a “Winter Wonderland” event at its new 1,200-seat facility in Firhouse. The event lasts for a month and features fairground rides, Santa Claus and several other children’s activities.

The event, which is free to enter, is the latest in a series of community events hosted by the facility since its opening in October. Other events include a Halloween festival, a variety concert and an “Alice in Wonderland tea party”.

“Nothing’s for free. What is it they’re trying to do?” asked Firhouse resident and local area representative for the Social Democrats Carly Bailey.

She was worried the church was targeting economically deprived communities with a view to recruitment. Ms Bailey, a mother of two, noted that bringing children to see Santa Claus can cost €20 or more in many places but that it was free at the Scientology centre.

“It’s obviously aimed at people who don’t have a huge amount of money who would be absolutely thrilled to bring their kids to something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

Dublin South-West TD Seán Crowe said he was worried Scientology was attempting to become part of the fabric of the community in Tallaght before starting to actively recruit people.

“They’ve made it known local groups can avail of its facilities. And there is a shortage of community facilities in the area. There’s always groups looking for a meeting room or something like that. So that’s their way in,” the Sinn Féin TD said.

“But I’ve huge concerns in relation to the group itself. It is a cult. I wouldn’t be encouraging anybody to be using the facilities,” he added.

“No, we won’t be going. From what I’ve seen on television and online I wouldn’t be bringing my kids near the place,” said Louise Kenny, a mother of two, while she shopped in the Firhouse Shopping Centre.

When The Irish Times visited the facility on Sunday a security guard followed this reporter before ordering deletion of a photograph. Church management was alerted after The Irish Times refused.

The church’s director of external affairs, Diana Stahl, said the facility was open to all but that members of the press must make an appointment.

She said about 800 people had visited the centre since the Winter Wonderland opened last Friday. When The Irish Times visited at 2.30pm on Sunday there were less than 20 visitors present.

Ms Stahl said members of the community were welcome to come in and discuss their concerns with a member of staff, except for protesters “who only want to cause trouble”.

Asked how many people have joined the church since the Firhouse facility opened, another Scientology official, who identified herself as Janet, said they do not keep track of those numbers.

In a separate emailed statement, Ms Stahl said Scientology is a “non conversionalist” organisation.

“You can meet many people who we have known and worked with for years who will confirm to you that we have never tried to ‘recruit’ them.”

She said “various local councillors and community representatives, local organisations, local media, numerous sports groups, artists and young families” have visited the facility since it opened.

Many of Scientology’s Firhouse events have been accompanied by protests outside the facility by a small but vocal group of anti-Scientology activists.

A protest against the “Winter Wonderland” festival took place last Friday. On Sunday a play titled “Squeeze my Cans” was staged in another community centre in Firhouse which mocked the church. It stars US actress and anti-Scientology activist Cathy Schenkelberg, who was a member of the church for 14 years before she left.

The autobiographical plot features a woman auditioning to be the girlfriend of famous Scientologist and actor Tom Cruise.

Church of Scientology ‘Drug Rehab Centre Plan’ for Meath – Meath Chronicle

The Church of Scientology is reported to have purchased the former old national school site in Ballivor for use as the location for a controversial drug rehabilitation centre.

The site already has planning permission for a nursing home development. It was sold by the parish some years back following the opening of the new school across the road from the site, and has since been sold again.

Concerns have been raised in the village that the development, beside the local community centre and gardens, is to house the organisation’s Narconon programme, an expensive substance-abuse rehabilitation programme.

Among those who have raised concerns is Fine Gael councillor for the Trim area, Cllr Noel French, who says that such a move would need a change of use planning application, which he will be objecting to.

American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard founded scientology in 1953, and the Church of Scientology has often been compared to a cult. Its Hollywood supporters have included actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

In October this year, the organisation, which has no charitable or religious status in Ireland, and is a registered company, opened a massive 1,100 seater conference centre in Firhouse, Dublin, and last year, opened a ‘national affairs office’ at Merrion Square in Dublin.

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.

Cllr French believes it would need a change-of-use planning application to become an addiction rehabilitation centre.

“I could be objecting to that on a number of grounds,” he states. “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 says.

“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.”

“Again, no problem with those who fall on hard times and I am actually on the board of such a centre, but Ballivor is not the place for such a centre. It is too lsolated and too small for any hope of recovering addicts to re-integrate into society.”

While a number of European countries have recognised scientology as a religion, Belgium recently tried to outlaw the organisation as a criminal one after a 20-year investigation, but failed.

The Church of Scientology’s media relations department in Dublin has been contacted by the Meath Chronicle but has not commented on the reported Ballivor purchase.

HSE warns that elements of Scientology detox have ‘no basis’ in scientific fact –

A HSE expert has criticised elements of a Church of Scientology detox programme as ‘having no standing’ within the medical community.

While the Scientology movement runs a number of detox programmes, one particular “purification rundown” service is being offered to a number of people at the centre in Firhouse with a price tag of €1,500 per person.

The ‘Purif’ programme involves taking doses high doses of vitamins as well as spending prolonged periods in a sauna and bouts of exercise. It aims to “enable an individual to rid himself of the harmful effects of drugs, toxins and other chemicals that lodge in the body and create a biochemical barrier to spiritual well-being”, according to official Scientology literature. has spoken with former Scientologists about their experiences of the process. Some elements of the practice have been described by the HSE as having “no basis” in scientific fact.

Former member John McGhee told “I was put onto the “purification rundown”, also know in ‘scientologese’ as the Purif, as my first step on Scientology’s ‘Bridge to Total Freedom’.

“It consisted of me going into the sauna every day for up to 4 hours for 32 days. Immediately before each session in the sauna I was given high doses of niacin (vitamin B3) and brought on a two-mile jog so as to induce the niacin flush. Once my skin start turning bright red and feeling like I have been stung by fire ants, it was time to jog back to the mission and get straight into the sauna.

“It was absolutely unbearable and I would often fall asleep inside the sauna with my Purif twin (another guy who was undergoing the purification rundown with me) waking me up and talking about how great L Ron Hubbard was and that how the rest of the world was deficient without Scientology in their lives.

“The person supervising our purification rundown was called the Purif i/c (in-charge). They will periodically check on us in the sauna and administer to us salts to take orally, with water, and ensure that we would have brief cold showers and return to the sauna promptly.

“I was told by Scientology the purification was the first step on the bridge because one needed a clear body and clear mind to proceed with the intense auditing which was to follow.”

Speaking to, a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology said it could not comment on individual accounts of the purif.

Children are also allowed to undergo the ‘purification rundown’. In a phone call between a prospective client and a Church of Scientology staff member heard by, the staff member said that a 13-year-old would be allowed on the course but it is understood that the Scientology member who recommended this was later admonished by their superiors.

The Scientology spokeswoman added: “ Young people wishing to advance themselves on their own spiritual path would take part in the Purification programme, but would require parental consent and would require medical approval.”

A “secularised adaptation” of the rundown is delivered in the ‘Narconon’ drug rehabilitation centres worldwide. The purification rundown is designed as a rite of passage for members of Scientology. However, the vitamin and sauna elements which make up part of it have also been used as part of a drug rehabilitation group called Narconon. The Narconon programme is supported by the Church and by Scientologists internationally. However, Narconon is not currently in Dublin. contacted the HSE to get the Irish health service’s opinion on the detox. A consultant psychiatrist in substance misuse from the National Drug Treatment Centre said that Scientology’s programme has no basis in science.

The doctor said: “Scientology’s drug treatment programme has no standing amongst medical professionals involved in the treatment of persons with alcohol and drug use disorders.

“It comprises a series of interventions (‘Narconon’) with limited or no basis in a scientific understanding of human physiology and brain functioning and may potentially be harmful directly (with overuse of vitamins and other products) and indirectly in that persons are engaging in an intervention with no evidence of potential benefit for them.”

The Purif programme also employs the administration of doses of vitamins.

In response from a request from, the Church of Scientology said:

“The Purification Rundown is a part of the spiritual path a member of the Scientology religion will take part in. It has been found that drugs and toxins can take a heavy toll on the emotional and spiritual well being of an individual and the programme enables an individual to rid himself of the harmful effects of drugs, toxins and other chemicals that lodge in the body and create a biochemical barrier to spiritual well-being.

We live in a chemical-oriented society. Virtually everyone is regularly subjected to an intake of food preservatives, pesticides, atmospheric poisons and the like.

The statement quoted a paragraph from the book Clear Body Clear Mind, authored by the founder of the Church of Scientology L Ron Hubbard:

“The Purification program cannot be construed as a recommendation of medical treatment or medication and it is not professed as a physical handling for bodies nor is any claim made to that effect.

There are no medical recommendations or claims for the Purification program or for any of the vitamin or mineral regimens described in this book.

“Contributions for taking such services are given willingly by our members and our members are well aware they are used by the Church to further our community betterment activities.”

Church of Scientology protest planned after High Court victory

A demonstration will be held outside the Church of Scientology’s National Affairs Office in Dublin on December 2nd at 11:00 AM.

What: Protest against the Scientology organisation’s fraud and abuses
When: Saturday, December 2nd from 11:00 AM
Where: Church of Scientology National Affairs Office, 4 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

Dublin Live:

Pete Griffiths says he “was conned for twenty years” until a similar protest in 2008 led to a “penny-dropping moment” that saw him desert Scientology.

The High Court last week lifted an injunction forbidding Griffiths or his “servants or agents or any person acting in concert” with him from picketing Church of Scientology premises.

Now Griffiths plans to demonstrate outside the Church of Scientology’s Dublin 2 offices in the hope that his protest might help others “to see that they have been duped”.

Griffiths, who heads up the Ex-Scientologists Ireland group, said today: “I’m keen to resume regular protests of the Scientologists’ premises after defeating their court injunction.

“While I’m opposed to the Scientology organisation’s fraud and abuses, I see Scientologists as victims deserving of sympathy and understanding.

“I was conned for twenty years until such a protest opened my eyes to the enormity of the deceit.”

At the weekend, author and well-known ex church member Jon Atack described the successful appeal as a “landmark achievement against active Scientologists in the Irish courts”.

Griffiths added that the goal of Saturday’s protest, which will take place from 11am, “is to inform the general public, and if possible, to reach the existing membership in the hopes that they too will eventually come to see that they have been duped”.

A new Church of Scientology opened in Firhouse last month, while their offices in leafy Merrion Square opened a year ago.

Seán Crowe, TD for Dublin South-West, said recently that he had grave concerns about the Firhouse opening.

“This is basically a place for a cult and we know from the past that it targets people who are vulnerable in their own lives. It is not something I would encourage people to get involved in”, he said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin described Scientology as a cult at his party Ard Fheis in the RDS last month.

He told the party faithful: “These types of cults can be very damaging to people, particularly to young people. The best way forward needs to be examined, it may not be legislated. I think ultimately in situations like this it is about education.”