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‘After I got out it was very, very difficult…’: Irish ex-Scientology members tell their stories – The Irish Mirror

The Church of Scientology opened a new National Affairs Office on Dublin’s Merrion Square a year ago.

The group founded by sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard – which counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta as members – said it aims to tackle homelessness and drugs.

Last week supporters of its teachings were out in force at The Square shopping centre in Tallaght handing out leaflets.

And the organisation has reportedly just bought a 1,200-seat former church in nearby Firhouse.

Some consider it a cult to the stars, others a harmless self-help group.

Here former members living in Ireland tell their stories.

Sitting in a sauna for up to four hours and taking 300mg of Niacin in one go during the month-long purification process didn’t deter John McGhee.

Even when he “started glowing bright red” and was told it was the “radiation leaving his body” he stuck with it.

It was only when he moved on to the survival programme to “clear his thoughts” and witnessed a fellow recruit have a mental breakdown he decided he’d had enough.

John, now working as an embalmer and living in Clara, Co Offaly, told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “He was my course twin and we had to keep telling each other to walk across the room and touch the wall. I saw him have a complete meltdown. He physically changed in front of me. He went grey, was sweating.

“He said, ‘Help me please, I feel terrible’. His face dropped but I didn’t know what to do.” John panicked and called the supervisor from the next room who in turn called for the “lead auditor” to assess the situation.

He recalled: “They said he would have to have repair auditing at their Saint Hill centre in England and that it would cost €6,000 but he had to come up with the money before they would fix him. That was it for me.

“I checked out in 2008. To this day that poor guy hasn’t received that fix as far as I know but he’s still with them and won’t talk to me. For me it was like an onion. There are mild layers on the outside but when you get to the centre it’s more
sinister and it will sting you.”

Pete Griffiths lost his home and had to start from scratch after he spent years working for the organisation – on zero wages.

He insisted his experience taught him there was no more to Scientology than recruiting followers and persuading them to buy books and enrol on expensive courses.

Pete, who lives in Mayo, said: “Whatever money you made a percentage went to your ‘upline’.

“And whatever you sold in terms of books you had to replace.

“If you do everything available to you in terms of courses and material it can end up costing you anything from €350,000 to €500,000.

“I was involved for seven years but the mental damage went on for a lot longer. There’s a lot of love-bombing at the start. It’s very subtle the way it happens but it is a form of mind control.

“Certain emotions are discouraged, including sympathy – that’s why Scientologists seem so cold-hearted.

“My brother was in the Sea Org, which is hardcore, for 24 years.

“He left five years ago and still won’t talk to me about his experience.

“It’s like he’s still in the mindset and needs something to wake him up. I still don’t know how he got out.

“I had to escape without telling them because even if you say you want to leave there are a number of steps you have to go through aimed at persuading you to stay and it can take years.”

John Duignan, who documented his experience in a book called The Complex, left in 2006 but admitted it took him a decade to readjust to “outside” life.

He spent 22 years in the Sea Org – Scientology’s most dedicated group whose members once wore naval uniform and lived on ships in international waters.

He told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I didn’t see the light of day for 20 years. The system is a pressure cooker because you’re with these people 24 hours a day.

“They got me when I was very depressed. Three pretty girls asked me to fill in a questionnaire and from there I was roped in. You live in a bubble. There’s no radio, TV, newspapers, and the internet is banned.

“Then I began to unravel the whole thing and could no longer accept the teachings – that non-Scientologists are called WOGs and considered not quite up to standard, and if you’re disabled you’re called a degraded being.”

John left “on the sly” with a bag of belongings before going home to Cork.

He said: “After I got out it was very, very, very difficult. I had fallen to pieces. I was in a dangerous suicidal depression.

“But I finally realised Scientology does not work in the real world – and that I’d wasted more than 20 years of my life.”

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/after-out-very-very-difficult-10854119

New Scientology HQ in Firhouse, Dublin

It appears that David Miscavige has plans for Ireland.

First we were surprised last year when the National Affairs Office of Ireland was opened in Merrion Square around the corner from the Parliament buildings and just two doors down from Oscar Wilde’s former home. This is operated by the Office of Special Affairs and they have a specific role to perform within Scientology — “safepointing” is the term used to describe making an area “safe to expand into” and this involves all the front groups that we know so well. From Narconon and Criminon, through CCHR, The Truth About Drugs, The Way To Happiness, Youth for Human Rights and the Volunteer Ministers, they work tirelessly to get people to think or believe that Scientology are the good guys in society, bringing benefits to all, rather than a racket fleecing individuals and destroying families and bringing nothing but misery.

In addition to the visible work done by OSA, here we also have their dirty tricks department. This nefarious outfit needs no introduction to regular readers of this blog. Spying on critics, compiling files and dossiers on public servants and representatives, gathering information that can be used to “shudder” critics into silence. All the usual L. Ron Hubbard policy letters brought to life by a zealous group of deluded adherents convinced that clearing the planet will bring salvation to all. Bad news guys, you are mocking up your reactive minds!

And then just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier. Scientologists in Ireland want to go Ideal! They’ve bought up a “prosperity gospel” property that had been seized by the Bank of Scotland at a third the original value — six million euros, down from 18 million.

What do they plan to do with such a property? It comes complete with 1,300-seat hall and was used as a community centre in Firhouse, Dublin 24 until the closure, seizure, and now purchase. The community needs a school but that’s not going to happen now. It’s yet another “ideal” property to add to Miscavige’s ever-increasing portfolio.

The facility is in a bad location regards foot traffic (remember that old LRH policy that demanded that orgs be located in high body traffic areas?) but they no longer appear to care about that. They can show the dwindling membership that they really are expanding despite what those SPs keep on saying.

There are no native Irish working in the National Affairs Office, but that’s OK, because if they do get any and they also want to read everything in the Irish language, then they can, because of the translation unit based in Denmark that has been working on translating all of L. Ron Hubbard’s works into Irish! The only problem here is that everyone who speaks Irish these days also speaks and reads in English and the market for these translations is zero. I know of at least one translator who is still waiting to get paid for their work. There have been a lot of foreign Scientologists entering Ireland over recent months. So much so that it has caught the attention of immigration. You see Irish people are not interested in Scientology, as evidenced by their failure to gain more than a toehold here over the past 25 years, so we’ll just ship in some staff to “safepoint” and create an Ideal Org for Dublin, to hell with the cost! If we build it, they will come? Oh no they won’t!

The call has gone out — Dublin is going Ideal!

Do you think this fellow knows what he’s getting into?

You can’t go Ideal without playful fundraisers…

But not everyone is thrilled with Scientology’s push. Local Area Rep for the Social Democrats in Firhouse, Carly Bailey, says she’s going to call a hearing about it…

Inside the strange world of the Church of Scientology in Dublin – The Irish Times

The Church of Scientology opened a new National Affairs Office on Dublin’s upmarket Merrion Square on Saturday, and it was exactly as strange as you might imagine.

I somehow found myself at the launch, almost by accident, through a friend who had received an invitation. Not there as a journalist, I was afforded an interesting insight into the strange world of Scientology and what it hopes to do here in Ireland.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the church held a party in the Davenport Hotel around the corner from their new office. As I wandered into the lobby feeling more out of place than I have in my life, an American woman with a painfully wide smile greeted me asked me if I was there for the dancing. I was led to a room with food, drinks and a live swing band.

Everyone was beautifully dressed and having the time of their lives. Or so it seemed. It turns out Scientologists are excellent dancers.

Nothing in the room indicated this event had anything to do with Scientology, until you started talking to people. Almost no one in the room was Irish, and it was clear (from an overheard conversation) that many of them had been flown in from the US and the UK for the event. The National Affairs Office staff are all new too, they arrived from their respective countries just last week, according to a number of them I spoke to.

Chatting to someone whose business card described them as ‘The Way to Happiness Co-ordinator’, I was told about the plans for the new office. She explained that this would be a secular branch of the church, not trying to convert people but just helping with social issues. She particularly stressed that they would be fighting for our human rights, human rights we don’t even know we have. The room was very loud so I couldn’t get more detail on that.

The Executive Director, whose business card does not have her name printed on it, said later the group would be trying to help with Ireland’s drug abuse and homelessness problems, and urged people to “bring your friends and allies” to the centre on Merrion Square.

The opening ceremony, in front of the Merrion Square property, was nearly normal, except for the number flags and tri-colour themed decorations which could only have been organised by an American. Irish patriotism is more Taytos than flags. Once the ribbon was cut and Merrion Square duly filled with green, white and orange balloons and confetti, I was able to take a look inside.

The building has been beautifully restored using all the original features, but there is no doubt who is in charge. Scientology branded displays are everywhere. There are shelves full of L Ron Hubbard novels and displays detailing Hubbard’s life story, the rules members must live by, the church’s successes and how far they’ve spread themselves around the world cover every wall.

The staff were very welcoming and kind and utterly dedicated to their cause. The evangelism was palpable. It had the same sort of eerie unreality that I’ve only previously experienced while touring the Google offices.

The church has very clearly sized up Ireland’s problems and is keen to employ its methods to deal with them. What exactly that looks look like is less clear.

Saturday’s events gave the impression that the Church of Scientology’s National Affairs Office is on a mission and nothing is going to get in its way.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/inside-the-strange-world-of-the-church-of-scientology-in-dublin-1.2831493

The Phoenix, 13/02/2015 – “Zabrina Collins”

Last weekend a conference was held in Dublin by former members of the Church of Scientology, who told of their alleged experiences of fraud and abuse at the cult. But one woman who stayed far away from the conference is Zabrina Collins (36), a formidable, high-ranking member who acts as part-spokesperson, part-stormtrooper for the group, which first set up an office in Ireland in 1956. Collins is currently at the centre of a bitter legal dispute with two former Scientologists who campaign against the organisation, with plenty of mud being flung on both sides.

There are some admirable qualities in terms of what Scientology purports to do, such as the search for truth and helping people who have suffered trauma in their lives. The problem is that there can be a heavy price to be paid – not just in a monetary sense – to be a member of this controversial cult. And frequently, when people leave Scientology, things tend to get nasty.

In 2003, for example, a former member named Mary Johnston sued the Dublin Scientology mission in the High Court for psychological and psychiatric injuries inflicted upon her during her time as a member in the 1990s. The case was settled out of court. More recently, another ex-member, Kevin Stevenson, lodged High Court proceedings against Scientology in 2012 for alleged fraud and infliction of emotional suffering (see The Phoenix 22/3/13). Stevenson claimed to have been duped out of around €100,000 by the Scientologists, although he withdrew his case last year. Another frequently made criticism of Scientology which is thought to only have around 50 committed members in Ireland, where it is headquartered a premises on Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1 – is that it encourages its followers to cut off contact with non-Scientologist family members.

The cult’s staunchest critics tend to be former members. Leading the charge against Scientology in Ireland is former member Pete Griffiths, who lives in Mayo and spends much of his time campaigning against Scientology. (Griffiths organised the recent conference about Scientology, which featured among others BBC reporter John Sweeney, who made a well-known documentary about Scientology in 2007.) Griffiths, who is British, joined Scientology in 1987 in England together with his (now ex-) wife.

He and his wife later joined the organisation’s staff and even spent short stints working for Scientology in the US, before eventually leaving in 1994 and subsequently relocating to Ireland. He became involved in the anti-Scientology movement in 2008 after meeting someone on their way to protest at the Scientology mission in Dublin.

In May 2013, Griffiths visited St David’s CBS, a secondary school in Artane, Dublin, where, according to a court document, he gave a talk “warning about the dangers of cults in general and Scientology in particular.” It is claimed that two days later, Collins emailed the school principal and referred to herself as a “concerned parent.” The email allegedly described Griffiths as “an avid hate campaigner against Scientology in Ireland” and continued, “By welcoming such a character into your school and allowing him a platform to propagate his hate mongering both you and he have grossly violated the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act.”

The email also allegedly stated that Griffiths’ aim was to “instill hatred and support criminal activity” and claimed that he was being kept under surveillance by the Gardai and had caused criminal damage to “our property just a few weeks ago.” According to a court document, the email also implies that Griffiths (who is gay) is a paedophile and “poses a threat to children.”

Griffiths issued defamation proceedings against Collins in the Circuit Court last year, which look set for a full hearing later this year. But there is now another case linked to the defamation action, in which Collins is suing Griffiths and another former Scientologist, John McGhee, for alleged assault.

The assault case has its origins in incidents in Dublin‘s city centre last December. In the High Court that month, Collins and another Scientologist, Michael O’Donnell, obtained restraining orders against Griffiths and McGhee, after telling the court that they had been harassed and intimidated by the former Scientologists while handing out anti-drugs leaflets, as part of a campaign known as ‘The Truth About Drugs’.

The cult’s members are now suing Griffiths and McGhee for alleged assault in the Circuit Court, which made an order last month that the assault case and the defamation case are to be heard at the same time. In an affidavit, McGhee – who is representing himself- denied claims that any assault had taken place, but admitted taking some leaflets from Collins’s carrier bag and putting them in a rubbish bin. (Griffiths also denies assaulting the pair.) Zabrina Collins is originally from Co Donegal and is the daughter of nightclub owner Frank Shortt, who was framed by Gardai in the 199os and who was wrongly convicted of allowing drugs to be sold in his nightclub, for which he was awarded more than €4.5m by the State in 2007. His daughter first became involved in Scientology while in Australia in 2000 and became active in the Irish branch the following year, after returning home. She later married another senior member, Ger Collins, whose title is ‘Mission Holder,’ which effectively makes him the most senior Scientologist in Ireland. Zabrina Collins has acted as ‘Ethics Officer’ in the cult. In an affidavit sworn as part of the assault case, McGhee claimed that Collins’s duties as Ethics Officer “included disciplining Scientologists who were not living by the rules of the cult and ordering the disconnection of family members who may be hostile to their loved one’s choice of religion.” Collins was later promoted to the ‘Office of Special Affairs’, a role that involves dealing with Scientology critics, and former members of the cult in particular.

Collins’s commitment to Scientology is clearly a fulltime job, although she and her husband also own a chiropractors, Abbey Chiropractic and Wellness Center, on Parnell Street, Dublin 1. (This company showed accumulated losses of €42,000 in its most recent accounts, made to the end of 2012.)

Meanwhile, a considerable amount of Collins’s time this year is likely to be spent on her legal duel with Griffiths and McGhee. At a court sitting last month, the Circuit Court’s Judge Jacqueline Linnane warned the two sides that they potentially faced a massive legal bill if the cases went ahead. But neither side look set to back down. Representing Collins in both cases is a British solicitor, Peter Hodkin, a card carrying Scientologist whose firm acts for the Scientologists in the UK.

“Scientology: Enough is Enough”

Ex-members of the Cult of Scientology speak out against its fraud and abuse at a Dublin conference.

Friday February 6th 2014 from 6:30 p.m. and Saturday February 7th 2014 from 12 noon.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/596345363824490/

Some of the special guests at the conference will include:

John Sweeney (author of Church of Fear : Inside The Weird World of Scientology)
Russell Miller (author of Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard)
Nancy Many (author of My Billion Year Contract: Memoir of a Scientologist)
Markus Thöß (film maker)
Stephen Jones (ex-Sea Org)
Samantha Domingo (ex-Sea Org)
Dee Findlay (ex-Guardian’s Office volunteer)
Victoria Britton