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.” Mr Ryan said that by this he was referring to a marathon legal case taken by an Irish businesswoman that was settled outside court.
Mary Johnston, who runs a sports equipment centre, took the action against the Church and some of its members alleging conspiracy, misrepresentation and breach of constitutional right as well as deliberate infliction of emotional harm.
Mr Ryan said he was confident the church would bounce back into the black. He said members were “not banging on our doors to hand the loans back or they’ll call in the bailiffs!” and it would take “maybe a couple of years” to resolve the deficit.
Mr Ryan said he could not comment on whether the period of the accounts covered any financial settlement or payments of costs to Ms Johnston.
He said the Scientology Church in Ireland still had outstanding legal fees, but these were “minor as far as I am aware”. “We are over the hump,” he claimed.
“We’re not a business. We are very dedicated to what we teach and believe. Our members are willing to put their money where their mouth is.”
Scientology is best-known for its celebrity members, who include John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
Mr Ryan said: “It’s a double-edged sword (celebrity members) – a lot of people think Hollywood, that’s La La Land!”
The Church of Scientology employs 15 in Ireland. Its directors are architect Gerard Ryan, and his sisters-in-law Anne-Marie Ryan and Siobhan Ryan.
The Dublin mission’s accounts say it has less than £20,000 in total current assets which include all stocks, debtors and cash in the bank.