Protesters gathered outside the Victory Centre in Firhouse, Dublin on Saturday, October 14th, to oppose the Church of Scientology’s grand opening of their new headquarters there.
It was widely reported that the religious movement had purchased the building earlier this year in order to establish a European base of operations. Controversial leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, had been flown in from the U.S to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.
The road leading to the newly-refurbished centre was cordoned off for approximately 100 metres, closing off a bus stop along the way. A lollipop man who appeared to be employed by the centre’s new residents, occasionally stopped traffic to allow visitors to cross the street.
A mix of both local and international protesters held signs and formed a picket-line across the main entrance to the building. Signs were emblazoned with witty slogans and graphic images of supposed ex-members.
Anne-Marie, a resident of the Firhouse area, believes that the group may only view Ireland as a “soft touch” and is being used as a stepping stone in order to gain further entry into Europe.
Another protester from North Dublin, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that he lost a number of close friends to Scientology a few years ago.
“I know a few people who are in the Church, people who were my friends, who were taken by the Church and now they can’t communicate with me anymore. I’ve joined in these protests because I think what they stand for is absolutely unbelievable,” said the young protester.
Throughout the afternoon, visitors could be seen leaving the centre in small groups. None of these visitors wished to comment.
William Drummond, a man who claimed to be a member of the Church of Scientology for over 50 years, led the protest over the course of the day. Drummond, who claimed that he was indoctrinated into the Church as a child in South Africa, said that he came to Firhouse to deliver a warning to Irish citizens.
“The end result here is to send a message to the Irish people that this is a dangerous cult. We want to know why these people are allowed to get away with this, to practise here in Ireland,” explained Drummond.
The opening of the new Scientology centre comes as the latest census revealed that only 87 people identify as Scientologists in Ireland. However, the Victory Centre boasts an impressive total capacity of 1,200.
The Church of Scientology includes some of the world’s biggest stars in its membership, including Tom Cruise, John Travolta and folk superstar Beck.
By: Conor Shields