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Irish independent © - Tuesday June 15th 2004

Scientology Church's €1.1m deficit in Ireland

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.

Tom Lyons

Troubled Scientology Church in Ireland is now €1m in red

Irish Independent, June 28, 2006
By Tom Lyons

INTEREST-FREE loans from abroad are propping up the troubled Irish branch of the controversial Church of Scientology.

Financial documents seen by the Irish Independent reveal that the church is more than ?1m in the red after running up huge legal bills in an epic eight-year battle brought by a disgruntled former member.

As a result, members of the mega-rich Church of Scientology in the United States have had to cough up almost €400,000 just to keep the Dublin arm afloat.

The celebrity endorsed group landed itself in a financial hole after a case was taken against it by a former owner of a sports equipment shop, Mary Johnston.

In the high-profile case, Ms Johnston alleged conspiracy, misrepresentation and breach of constitutional rights, as well as deliberate infliction of emotional harm, against the church and three of its members. The case was eventually settled out of court in 2002.

The Scientology spokesman in Dublin, architect Gerard Ryan, said yesterday: "Obviously, if you get into a legal thing that lasts eight years, the legal bills are going to be simply staggering. There is no pressure on us to pay the money back. It has been donated by various Scientologists across the world. In the States, we are very large and some of the more affluent people have been able to help us out."

Mr Ryan admitted that the growth of Scientology here had been "very, very small". Eighteen years after the Dublin office opened, it had managed to attract only a few hundred members. "We have a different point of view of things. We have teachings on past lives. From my point of view, I will be coming back next time," he said. "If someone isn't a Scientologist this time around, they may be next time."

Mr Ryan admitted, however, that the Church's €1m deficit was making it "difficult" to achieve things in its current lifetime. The Church has also failed to achieve charitable status in Ireland, which would give it tax-free status.

The head of Scientology in Ireland is Kerryman Gerard Collins. Other prominent cientologists here include members of Mr Ryan's family as well as a Swede, Anna-Lena Blance, who edits the church's infrequent magazine, called Freedom. Outside Ireland, Scientology - which was set up by the deceased US author L Ron Hubbard - has celebrity devotees including Tom Cruise.

"It is a double-edged sword having celebrity members," Mr Ryan said. "One the one hand, it i promotes the fact that we exist, but on the other, it means we can be associated with airy-fairy land."