A nephew of Charles Haughey, who shocked friends by moving to Australia to join a controversial cult, has returned home to Ireland to live.
Niall Haughey and his family left Ireland behind in March 2003 to pledge their lives to the bizarre enclosed religious group Magnificat Meal Movement (MMM), whose members are told the outside world is evil.
Mr Haughey is the son of the former Taoiseach’s brother Sean Haughey, a city and county manager who retired in 1989.
After 10 months with the cult – which has a number of Irish members due to its base in Catholicism – Niall Haughey and his family returned in January.
He has since been living with his father at the family home in Clontarf, Dublin, and it is believed his wife Maria and their three children are living with her parents.
The couple no longer have an Irish base after selling off their Co Tipperary home before emigrating to Australia.
When contacted by the Sunday Independent at his father’s Dublin home, Mr Haughey confirmed that he had left Australia and returned to Ireland, but refused to say whether or not he had left the religious movement altogether.
“I have your number and I will get back to you if I have something to say on this,” he said, but did not call again.
Irish cult expert Mike Garde, who has been investigating the MMM since 1997, said the cult “brainwashes” their members and is more focused on making money than any spiritual belief.
“When this group started out 10 years ago it was a genuine spiritual movement,” said Mr Garde. “But it’s not that any more. Over the years, it has developed from a Catholic movement into a sect and now it has completely turned in on itself and become a cult. Now its initials MMM should stand for Make More Money.”
Its leader, Debra Burslem, who claims she has visions of the Virgin Mary, is believed to have amassed a property empire worth more than $3.5m.
Followers of the cult are encouraged to join the commune as “slaves” for a year and follow strict prayer routines.
The cult’s head group in Australia is on private land and members stay amongst themselves, never venturing out as they believe the outside world is evil.
About 60 members make up this core group, of which, about six or seven are Irish. The MMM has hundreds of members worldwide.
Last year, Mr Haughey, 43, sold off his house and closed down his insurance business before travelling with his family to the cult headquarters in Helidon, Queensland, Northern Australia