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.””