Sunday 20 October 2019

Fr Gerard is in the spotlight again over 'House of Prayer'

KNOCKBRIDGE parish priest Fr Gerard McGinnity was in the spotlight again last week after a TV3 documentary featured his association with the controversial House of Prayer in Achill Island.

The priest, who is the spiritual director of the Christina Gallagher-led organisation, was mired in controversy three years ago after a series of articles in the Sunday World outlined the luxury lifestyle of Mrs Gallagher. His association with the House of Prayer, which has five centres across the world, was revisited in Tuesday night's documentary, 'Exposed: Ireland's Secret Cults', presented by journalist Michael Ryan.

The documentary featured secretly filmed footage of Mrs Gallagher, who claims to see visions of and get messages from the Virgin Mary, with Fr McGinnity in the background. Other footage showed the Knockbridge priest claiming that Mrs Gallagher had cured 'virtually all forms of cancer' as well as arthritis and MS.

Former House of Prayer patrons claimed that they ' hung on every word' Fr McGinnity said and alleged loans were taken out to give to the organisation. The documentary focused on two mansions owned by Mrs Gallagher, who has previously claimed she is financially supported by her husband, a businessman.

Clips from a Liveline interview given by Fr McGinnity in 2008 were also played on the show, while footage of the priest saying Mass was also used. A House of Prayer critic told the programme that without Fr McGinnity, Mrs Gallagher would be just 'a footnote in the history of the 1980s'.

The TV3 reporter travelled to Knockbridge to try to interview the cleric, but claimed Fr McGinnity had been ' tipped off ' a film crew was outside church and didn't come out. The reporter alleged the priest's supporters drove up and down past them in the village numerous times as they were filming.

Neither Fr McGinnity nor Mrs Gallagher were interviewed on the programme which also featured reports on Scinetology and the Palmerians. At the end of the film, TV3 said they were in ' ongoing discussions' with the House of Prayer and hope to broadcast their views in the near future'.