Tuesday 25 September 2018

Man claims elderly father subjected to 'spiritual injury' after €200K payment to House of Prayer

Pilgrims gather at the House of Prayer, on Achill Island, Co Mayo, which was founded by Christina GallagherPhoto : Keith Heneghan / Phocus.
Pilgrims gather at the House of Prayer, on Achill Island, Co Mayo, which was founded by Christina GallagherPhoto : Keith Heneghan / Phocus.

Time Healy

A MAN has claimed his elderly father was subject to a “spiritual injury” over providing a cheque for €200,000 to a Catholic priest acting as an agent for the House of Prayer, a retreat in Co Mayo founded by Christina Gallagher, a self-proclaimed Marian visionary.

Patrick McCormack has brought proceedings as personal representative of the estate of his late father James against Our Lady Queen of Peace, Achill House of Prayer Ltd.

Mr McCormack claims, as a result of alleged undue influence of a Catholic priest, Fr Gerard McGinnity, whom he alleges was acting as agent for the House of Prayer, his father had in August 2005 provided a cheque for €200,000 made out to contractors responsible for building works at the defendant’s premises.

His father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 and had suffered from dementia, Mr McCormack claims.

Arising from the circumstances of the provision of the €200,000 cheque, he alleges his father was caused to suffer a spiritual injury.

Ms Justice Mary Faherty reserved judgment on Friday on a preliminary application by Paul McGarry SC, for the defendant, to halt the case.

Fr Gerard McGinnity
Fr Gerard McGinnity

The defendant claims the proceedings are out of time and also alleges it is prejudiced by delay in bringing them.

The defendant also claims the €200,000 cheque was handed over voluntarily after Mr McCormack’s parents, James and Mary, contacted a representative of it in August 2005 to say they wished to make a donation to contribute to building works being carried on at the defendant’s premises.

Those works were being carried out by Dunwall Construction, it said.

Read More: House of Prayer paid €100k for copies of latest book from controversial founder who claimed to have visions of the Virgin Mary

It claims Mr and Mrs McCormack, for convenience and at the request of the defendant, made the cheque out to Dunwall Construction. Mr McCormack, representing himself, opposed the application.

In an affidavit, he said the €200,000 was paid at Fr McGinnity’s request.

He also said the “real truth of the lies and deceit” surrounding the House of Prayer - established in 1993 at Achill island, Co Mayo -  only came to light “considerably after 2009”.

The people involved in the House of Prayer were “arguably involved in a cult” and there were issues whether Fr McGinnity and his father came under the influence of a cult, he said.

Read More: Christina Gallagher's vision raised €1.6m profits for Mayo retreat centre

He also said the defendants are not prejudiced because they knew, or must have known, people would make claims to be reimbursed as a result of the “adverse publicity” that “engulfed” the House of Prayer and its “disreputable efforts” to gather in monies on the “pretext” it was for a good charitable purpose.

The Revenue removed the House of Prayer’s charitable status in 2006, he said.

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