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House of Prayer revenues rise by 22pc

THE controversial House of Prayer at Achill Island beat the recession blues last year to increase its revenues by 22pc.

However, newly filed company accounts show it could face a major tax bill after the Revenue stripped it of its charitable status.

Despite adverse publicity surrounding the Co Mayo religious retreat centre in recent years, accounts reveal donations increased by 50pc from €210,007 to €314,508 last year, with total revenues jumping to €416,263. The centre -- which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year -- made over €100,000 from the sale of religious objects, the accounts revealed.

The House of Prayer was founded by Christina Gallagher in 1993 and is part of an unofficial Catholic group.

Four years ago the Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary publicly distanced the archdiocese from the retreat, stating that its work "is entirely of a private nature and carries no ecclesiastical approval whatever".

Income

The Revenue Commissioners stripped the company of its charitable status in 2006, forcing the centre to treat all its donations as income.

Accounts filed for Our Lady Queen of Peace House of Prayer (Achill) Ltd said the company's tax advisers were currently in negotiations with the Revenue.

The directors of the company state it could be facing "a potential liability in the region of €125,000 before interest and penalties".

The directors point out that the company made losses between 2004 and 2007 and no tax liability arises. They point out that no liability arises from 2011. The accounts show the company was sitting on accumulated profits of €1.64m at the end of December last year.

The centre did not have anyone available to comment yesterday when contacted.

Irish Independent