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House of Prayer faces big tax bill as income soars

House of Prayer faces big tax bill as income soars

Donations to controversial company up 50 percent

Anton McNulty

The House of Prayer on Achill faces a potential tax bill of €125,000 with the controversial company’s accounts revealing that its income has risen by 22 per cent in the last year. The Achill-based religious retreat was stripped of its charity status by the Revenue Commissions in 2006, and has been plagued with allegations of financial irregularities.
While the numbers of pilgrims attending the controversial House of Prayer’s centre in Achill appear to have dwindled in recent years, it has not affected its donations. The company’s newly filed accounts show that donations increased by 50 per cent from €210,007 to €314,508 last year, with total revenues jumping to €416,263. The accounts also revealed that it made over €100,000 from the sale of religious objects.
Four years ago the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary distanced the church from the House of Prayer, stating that its work ‘is entirely of a private nature and carries no ecclesiastical approval whatever’.
Since the institution lost its charitable status, it must declare all donations as income. Accounts filed for Our Lady Queen of Peace House of Prayer (Achill) Ltd said the company’s tax advisers were currently in negotiations with the Revenue and it could be facing a ‘potential liability in the region of €125,000 before interest and penalties’.

€1.6m profit
It was reported in The Irish Independent that accounts show the company was sitting on accumulated profits of €1.64m at the end of December last year. The directors of the company point out that the company made losses between 2004 and 2007 and no tax liability arises. They point out that no liability arises from 2011.
When the House of Prayer first opened in 1993 it attracted thousands of pilgrims from around the world to Achill Island. Its founder Christina Gallagher, originally from Ballina, claims to have visions of the Virgin Mary and suffer from stigmata. In recent years, controversy has surrounded her perceived lavish lifestyle after it was revealed she was living in a €4 million home in Dublin and had other expensive property.

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