Foreign interest-free loans keep Irish branch of Scientology afloat

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Religion News Blog — The Irish branch of the Church of Scientology remains deep in the red as revenues continue to decline, the Irish Examiner reports:

Interest-free loans from abroad are propping up the Irish branch, which is €686,723 in the red, acc-ording to its latest accounts.

However, the non-executive director of the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin, Gerard Ryan, said yesterday its membership continued to grow last year and “our church in Ireland is definitely here for the long haul”.

Financial documents lodged by the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin Ltd with the Companies Office show revenues fell 14%, from €193,509 to €166,086.

This followed the church’s revenues more than halving in 2009 from €484,070 recorded in 2008.

Ryan blames the recession for the drop in revenues.

The paper quotes him as saying, “There are a few hundred adherents of Scientology in Ireland. There was a modest increase in numbers in the past year. We have churches in Dublin and Belfast.”

But ex-Scientologist Pete Griffith tells Tony Ortega, at the Village Voice, that

an ex-staff member managed to get a copy of a “call-in list” and shared it with other members of Ireland’s anonymous movement. The list contained the phone numbers of all local members, so that they could be called-in on a moment’s notice to attend an important event at the mission.

It had 40 names.

Ortega points out

Ireland is the only country in the world that requires the church to open its books, that forces it to show its actual state of affairs. And In Ireland, the only place in the world we have hard, verified financial information, records actually show that Scientology is experiencing a disastrous drop in revenue since the Anonymous movement started in 2008. […]

Like in the UK, Scientology is not recognized officially as a church in Ireland. But Ireland takes things a step further and requires Scientology’s Dublin mission to submit its revenue figures annually to the nation’s Companies Registration Office. Members of the public can then search those records and access them for a small fee. (And people have done just that.)

Ireland’s biggest dailies, the Irish Times, the Independent, and the Irish Examiner have been keeping a close watch on those records, and each of them have reported how severely the mission’s revenue has dropped since 2008.

But Scientology’s financial struggles in Ireland go back even further.

In 2003 the Church of Scientology’s Dublin branch settled an ex-member’s lawsuit out of court at an estimated cost of £2 million.

In her legal proceedings against the Church and three members of the Dublin Mission, Mary Johnston claimed she suffered a personality charge after being sucked into the grasp of the church and subjected to mind control techniques.

She claimed efforts were made to prevent her leaving the church and to silence, devalue and intimidate her and prevent her taking her legal proceedings.

Johnston also said she suffered psychological and psychiatric injuries.

In June 2004, the Irish Independent reported

The controversial Irish arm of the Church of Scientology has a massive £1.1m deficit in its accounts. In just three years, retained losses at the church soared 6,200pc to £1.1m at the end of April 2003 from a modest loss of £17,755.

The financial hole in the Dublin-based Church is being funded by interest-free loans from Irish and worldwide members.

Scientology director Gerard Ryan said: “The deficit is essentially because we were involved in a case which dragged on for seven or eight years.”

Two years later the paper again reported that “interest-free loans from abroad are propping up the troubled Irish branch of the controversial Church of Scientology.”

The Irish Examiner last friday said

In relation to the deficit being carried by the Irish branch, Mr Ryan and fellow director Siobhan Ryan confirm “the deficit has been funded by loans from members of the Church of Scientology worldwide and other Church of Scientology missions”.

The directors state that as there is no fixed repayment arrangements on the interest-free loans, they “will be repaid at the discretion of the directors when future cash resources permit, which in turn is dependent on generating future surpluses”.

The outstanding amount on the loans increased during 2010 from €370,304 to €376,383.

The church’s deficit has prompted the company’s auditors, O’Gorman & Co Accountants to highlight the issue “in view of the significance of the deficit and the uncertainty of generating future surpluses”.

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014