AT A PRESS conference held in the RDS last Friday, members of The Global Country of World Peace, a group founded by transcendental meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, announced that it has purchased Inishraher Island, off the coast of Co Mayo, with the intention of founding an International Peace Centre.
The 30-acre island was sold to the group "at a keen price" by local Colm Cronin, who has had an interest in the Maharishi's teachings for years.
Transcendental meditation, which formed a distinct strand of Sixties subculture after being adopted by the Beatles, has many acknowledged health benefits for the individual. However, Friday's press conference was mostly dominated by discussion of its effects on political stability.
The Global Country of World Peace - described by the Raja of England, Dr Peter Warburton, as an "omnipresent country without borders" - aims to promote "the peace and prosperity of every individual and every nation" through transcendental meditation and the observance of natural law". He said that Ireland had always stood fast behind the principles of natural law and, to some bemused smiles, added that this country was "a shining example to other nations".
While some of his followers in the audience listened with their eyes closed, he added that the group aimed "to bring invincibility to Ireland and through this to bring invincibility to the world".
The conference was also addressed, via a video link from America, by Dr John Hagelin, a Stanford-educated physicist and twice-failed US presidential candidate. After congratulating Ireland on the establishment of the Peace Government of Ireland (The Irish Branch of the Global Country of World Peace), he said that Maharishi's teachings were particularly relevant today because of the ever-present threat of terrorism.
He said that "knowledge of the administration of natural law can, quite literally, raise a nation to a level of absolute national security".
Doctor Joe Hayden, president of the Peace Government of Ireland, said Ireland was suitable for the project because of its history of neutrality and peacekeeping.
Quoting former Minister for External Affairs, Sean McBride, he said that "peace has to be the desperate imperative of mankind". He added that the group hoped to run the proposed centre - to be known as the Maharishi Peace Palace - along the lines of the Maharishi's teachings by promoting Ayurveda healthcare (a system based on the preservation of health).
In addition to the proposed centre in Mayo the group has offices in Dublin and, in time, intends to found centres throughout Ireland. These will be funded by the educational courses to be held in the centre as well as donations from private benefactors.
Dr Donn Brennan, the eminent Irish exponent of Ayurveda will give a talk tomorrow evening in the Kingston Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin at 7.30pm. Admission ?10.