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Sunday 23 September 2018

Scientologists seek planning permission to build playground at controversial Dublin centre

SECRETIVE: The Church of Scientology’s €6m HQ in Firhouse
SECRETIVE: The Church of Scientology’s €6m HQ in Firhouse
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

The Church of Scientology has applied for planning permission to build a playground at its centre in south Dublin.

The application was made on January 16 of this year and outlines plans for a 17sqm internal playground at its community centre in Firhouse.

It follows the opening of a "Winter Wonderland" at the centre over the Christmas period.

The event featured fairground rides, Santa Claus and several other children’s activities.

The planning application was erected outside the Church of Scientology's centre in Firhouse
The planning application was erected outside the Church of Scientology's centre in Firhouse

Residents and politicians in Firhouse have voiced concerns about the Church of Scientology's outreach efforts.

A petition objecting to the planning application has been circulating online.

Social Democrats councillor, Carla Bailey, has said "It should not be up to Scientologists to provide such a necessary public good."

A spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology said the centre has had "more than 4,000 visitors" since it opened in October.

"Many came to take part in weekly family fun days including Halloween, Alice in Wonderland tea party, a Community Charity Concert featuring top local talents where the proceeds went to a local homeless charity and our Winter Wonderland activities. Many came with questions and curious to find out what is Scientology, what we believe and what we do," she said.

Independent.ie previously revealed how an undercover reporter was urged to hand over cash on the spot to take up a Scientology course and was told psychiatrists or counselling do not work to combat mental health issues such as depression, after the reporter took a personality test.

Concerns have also been raised that the personality tests could be used to potentially manipulate vulnerable people suffering from mental health problems.

The President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland urged anyone concerned about their mental health to get advice from a health source "they trust".

Dr John Hillery told Independent.ie: "We would recommend that people get information regarding their health from sources they can trust, such as their GP.

"The evidence is there that psychiatry works and the treatments are based on years of training and research. We don't comment on individual organisations and psychiatrists wouldn't make such statements [saying certain forms of therapy don't work] about anyone or any organisation."

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