Residents and politicians of Firhouse have expressed concern that Scientologists are recruiting families by offering free Christmas-themed events, the Irish Times is reporting.
The controversial Church of Scientology set up camp in the south Dublin suburb earlier this year and are holding a 'Winter Wonderland' event at its Firhouse Road base in the run-up to Christmas.
The event, at the Scientology Community Centre, lasts for a month and features fairground rides, children's activities and the opportunity for families to visit Santa Claus free of charge.
Firhouse resident and local area representative for the Social Democrats Carly Bailey is concerned that the group is targeting 'deprived families' in order to recruit them. She noted that a visit to see Santa costs as much as €20 in some places but was free of charge at the Scientology Community Centre.
“Nothing’s for free. What is it they’re trying to do?
“It’s obviously aimed at people who don’t have a huge amount of money who would be absolutely thrilled to bring their kids to something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”
Dublin South-West TD Seán Crowe was stronger in his views, stating that he sees the Church Of Scientology as a 'cult':
“They’ve made it known local groups can avail of its facilities. And there is a shortage of community facilities in the area. There’s always groups looking for a meeting room or something like that. So that’s their way in.
“But I’ve huge concerns in relation to the group itself. It is a cult. I wouldn’t be encouraging anybody to be using the facilities."
(pic: Scientology Community Centre Dublin on Facebook)
Back in October, the group hosted a similar Halloween event which included face painting, pumpkin carving and apple bobbing.