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Questions asked over Heritage Week tours of Church of Scientology's Dublin office

Critics have questioned the decision to include the Scientology office on the Heritage Week programme

The Georgian exterior of the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office.
The Georgian exterior of the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office.
Image: Google StreetView

QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN asked about the inclusion of a Church of Scientology’s building  in the programme for Heritage Week in August. 

The Church of Scientology’s National Affairs office, which is on Merrion Square in Dublin, will open to the public on 17, 18 and 21 August as part of a week-long programme of events across the country during Heritage Week. 

However, doubts have been raised about the decision to include the Georgian building in Heritage Week.

The Church of Scientology, which was founded by L Ron Hubbard, has been trying to establish a position for itself in Irish society in recent years. The Dublin office opened in 2016, while the following year the Church of Scientology opened a community centre in Firhouse, south Dublin.

One ex-Scientologist has questioned why the Heritage Council is allowing this to go ahead. 

“I don’t think this is a good move,” Pete Griffiths told TheJournal.ie

“There’s nothing wrong with the people themselves. They’re not lying to you because they believe what they’re doing is going to help the world,” Griffiths said. However, he added that he was concerned a “softly-softly” approach might be taken to attract new members. 

A spokesperson for Scientology said that the organisation was “very proud to show the restored building and all it represents”. 

The Georgian building was built in the 1760s and  is on Dublin City Council’s list of protected structures. It was restored by the Church of Scientology in 2016. 

On the Heritage Council website, it states that guided tours will last ten to fifteen minutes and that refreshments will be available. 

Independent Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn said that while there seemed to be “nothing untoward” about the event, he acknowledged that people would have concerns about the decision to include the property in the event programme. 

Flynn said he hoped that the Heritage Council would reassure the public that the evenings will not be used to introduce people “by stealth” to Scientology. 

Flynn said he would be concerned by any religion that used Heritage Week to try and promote itself. 

Dublin City Councillor Kevin Donoghue of the Labour Party also said he was “concerned” by the inclusion of the organisation in the programme.

A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology said that Merrion Square has “a special meaning” for Scientologists across the world as L Ron Hubbard live and worked there in 1956. 

“We participated in last year’s National Heritage Week where scores of visitors were toured through the building and had a great time,” said the spokesperson. “We are looking forward to this year’s National Heritage Week to tour many more people and to develop even more friendships.”

When contacted by TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the Heritage Council forwarded a response to a member of the public who had expressed concerns about the inclusion of the Church of Scientology Office. 

In the email, a spokesperson for the Heritage Council said that Heritage Week exists to “promote awareness of our built, natural and cultural heritage”.

“On the basis that it is an historic building, being made available to the public during National Heritage Week, it meets the aims of the week and as such the Heritage Council made the decision to include this event as part of its National Heritage Week listings,” the spokesperson added. 

The National Affairs Office of the Scientologists looks after the “various humanitarian programmes which the Church supports and coordinates,” the spokesperson for the Church of Scientology said. It is currently housing a project which is working to translate the works of L Ron Hubbard into Irish. 

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