Irish Times, Jan. 30, 2003
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A woman told the High Court yesterday that she had become aware of a change in her sister at about the time the latter became associated with the Church of Scientology.
Ms Margaret O’Kelly, from Edenderry, said she had always been very close to her sister, Ms Mary Johnston, but became aware of a change in her, through “a lot of little things”, in the early 1990s. Ms Johnston was involved at that time in dianetics with Mr Tom Cunningham, a member of the church’s mission in Dublin.
Up to then, her children loved to see Ms Johnston coming to visit, but over a period of time they would say: “Oh no, not Auntie Mary.” She felt that her children did not want Ms Johnston around.
Ms O’Kelly said that her sister had talked a lot about dianetics and had said that it involved auditing. She [Ms O’Kelly] said that she thought it was about self-improvement.
Her sister had talked a lot about dianetics and wanted to use it to do away with Ms O’Kelly’s 10-year- old daughter’s grumpiness. Ms O’Kelly said she felt this was an imposition and she was worried about it.
Ms O’Kelly said that Ms Johnston had acted totally out of character. She would insist that she was right and Scientology would always be brought into it.
In August 1993, her husband’s cousin had died suddenly and, despite the fact that Ms Johnston was close to him, she was apathetic about what had happened.
Ms O’Kelly said she was appalled that her sister did not go to the funeral but rather talked about reincarnation. She showed no empathy with anybody and this was “totally out of character”.
Ms O’Kelly said her sister would telephone her mother four times a day. She would also contact other members of the family regularly, but then stopped coming to Edenderry, saying that she was busy. “I didn’t know at the time she was going into the [Church of Scientology] mission,” she said.
Ms Johnston is suing the Church of Scientology Mission in Dublin and three of its members, John Keane, Tom Cunningham and Gerard Ryan.
Ms Johnston, who operates a sports equipment centre at Westwood, Foxrock, Co Dublin, is seeking damages for alleged conspiracy, misrepresentation and breach of constitutional rights.
Earlier, a psychologist at University College Dublin, Dr Declan Fitzgerald, said he believed that what was called the Oxford Capacity Analysis, carried out by the church in its auditing process, impinged on people’s self-esteem and was highly manipulative.
He said he was embarrassed that his profession had not got this message across to the public more clearly.