Residents of small Meath town to protest suspected Scientology site

Determined residents of a small Meath town are intent on protesting at a site they believe has been bought by an off-shoot organisation of the Church of Scientology, writes Louise Walsh.

Pots, pans and everything loud will be used to make a racket at the protest in Ballivor next Wednesday by residents who say they are highly concerned at the lack of information surrounding the recent sale of a building, which has planning permission for a 54-bedroom nursing home.

Over 170 people of the village's 700 houses recently attended a public meeting to discuss what they believe will be Church of Scientology involvement in their community.

The building, beside the local community centre and garden, national school and soon-to-be-build playground, will be, according to the group, allegedly used as a 'wellbeing centre' by Narconon - a drug rehabilitation organisation which holds affiliated beliefs with the Church of Scientology.

Photos: Seamus Farrelly

A rota has been organised for a round-the-clock protest at the site while a petition, placards and a Ballivor Says No Facebook page have all been orchestrated in their fight

The petition for Meath Co Council and local TDs has been placed in all local businesses.

Ahead of a local meeting last December, a late minute reply was received by the Church of Scientology which said that 'Narconon' is a secular programme separate to the church here."

The residents say that their own research has discovered the name of the new owner though a land-registry search - a name, they allege is associated with the Church of Scientology.

Much mystery surrounds the new owners and the future purpose of the building, despite the best efforts of the residents who claim that even the car registration plates of the security on site are covered in black.

Local Fine Gael Cllr Noel French first aired his concerns last October, which increased as the months passed.

Photos: Seamus Farrelly

"We have tried to find out what the building is going to be used for but we've been stonewalled with secrecy. Why all the secrecy over a nursing home in the middle of a town with 1700 residents?

"At the minute contractors can finish the building up to planning permission regulations, which is what they are entitled to do. We can't legally challenge this venture - whatever it is - but we would like to take a stand and get it out there that the community of Ballivor don't want it.

"Ballivor is vulnerable place as it is. There is only one bus in and out of the village and no GP. We do not need a 'wellness centre' or anything else remotely associated with the teaching of the Church of Scientology.

"We have fear over the lack of information and that fear, at the minute is our power unless we get transparency," he said.

"Amazingly the Church of Scientology in Dublin has said it has no interest in Ballivor and has referred requests for information to Narconan, which they say is a secular organisation"

Local resident Claire O'Mara is getting her loudest kitchenware ready for the protest.

"Is it the Church of Scientology, is it Narconon? Are they the same thing? We are being told nothing and that's scaring us into operation.

"We have asked for clarification and have received very little .

"We found out the name of the registered owned and someone cheekily rang the Church of Scientology in Dublin to ask for him, without saying who we were. We were told he wasn't there at the minute but that a message would be passed on."

"We are not equipped for what would be the largest Narconon centre in Europe. If, what we suspect is true, we are bewildered as to why they picked to have a centre in the middle of a small town.

"There is 24 hour security on site, whose car registration plates are all blacked out. This centre would give the wrong impression of our town.

"Next Wednesday, at 2pm, I'll be making a sh*t load of noise with pots and pans and my wooden spoons and I'm going to drum the place down.

"There's less of a chance to shut it down once its opened so we will do all we can now, unless we receive information to ease our concerns."

Both Narconon and the Church of Scientology were contacted for comment but no reply had been received at time of publication.


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