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Man claims ‘cult’ payment caused ‘spiritual injury’ to elderly father

Court hears claim €200,000 was paid to priest acting as agent for House of Prayer

Stained glass windows commissioned for the House of Prayer in Achill. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

A man has claimed his elderly father was subject to a “spiritual injury” over providing a cheque for €200,000 to a Catholic priest acting as an agent for the House of Prayer.

The house is a retreat in Co Mayo founded by Christina Gallagher, a self-proclaimed Marian visionary.

Patrick McCormack has brought proceedings as representative of the estate of his late father, James, against Our Lady Queen of Peace, Achill House of Prayer Ltd.

Mr McCormack claims his father had in August 2005 provided a cheque for €200,000, as a result of alleged undue influence of a Catholic priest, Fr Gerard McGinnity, whom he alleges was acting for the House of Prayer. It was made out to contractors responsible for building works at the defendant’s premises.

His father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 , Mr McCormack claims.

Arising from the circumstances of the provision of the cheque, he alleges his father was caused to suffer a spiritual injury.

Ms Justice Mary Faherty reserved judgment on Friday on a preliminary application by Paul McGarry SC, for the defendant, to halt the case. The defendant claims the proceedings are out of time and also alleges it is prejudiced by the delay.

The defendant claims the cheque was handed over voluntarily after Mr McCormack’s parents contacted them and it was made out to the contractor for convenience. Mr McCormack opposed the application. He also said the “real truth of the lies and deceit” surrounding the House of Prayer only came to light “considerably after 2009”.

The people involved in the House of Prayer were “arguably involved in a cult”, he said. The Revenue removed the House of Prayer’s charitable status in 2006, he said.

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