‘Cult-like’ charity loses tax status
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Colin Coyle Sunday Times Jan 9, 2011
THE Pilgrim House Community, a religious charity that has been described as displaying “cult-like” characteristics, has lost its charitable tax status after the company controlling it was struck off. The organisation, which cares for five mentally disabled adults and receives funding from the Health Service Executive (HSE), is now seeking to have Pilgrim House Community Ltd restored to the register of companies, a spokeswoman said. The group, which received €205,800 from the HSE in 2009 and €194,481 last year, has been involved in a number of controversies.
In 2001 a member of the community hanged herself after a violent row with her separated husband, who was also involved with the group. Members of the community were later reported to have distributed leaflets to church-goers in Co Meath alleging incest against a local family. Other members were prevented from entering Israel at the turn of the millennium when officials mistook them for a doomsday cult. The company was dissolved by the Companies Registration Office (CRO) last year after its directors failed to file its annual accounts in time. After it was struck off, Revenue removed its charitable tax status. It has subsequently filed accounts for 2009, although the firm’s auditor reported that there was “a material uncertainty” about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.
I n a c c o u n t s f i l e d i n November 2010, Hilary Haydon & Co said it was “unable to obtain independent confirmations” of the company’s bank balances at the end of 2009, and said information relating to petty cash transactions and cash balances was “limited”. At the end of 2009, the company’s liabilities exceeded its total assets by €37,488. Despite “risks and uncertainties such as increasing costs and the economic downturn”, the directors reported the group was in a “position to manage these risks”.
The community, currently based in Swords, Co Dublin, applied to the High Court before Christmas to restore their company to the register. Bridget Anne Ryan, a director, said the strike-off related to “being caught behind with their accounts”.
“On December 20 we got an order from the High Court for the company to be restored,” she said. “We are waiting for the CRO to reinstate us. After that we will look to get our charitable status returned from Revenue.” Ryan said it had been “business as usual”, despite the uncertain future of the company. “We weren’t going to stop operations just because we met a problem,” she said. She said cuts in HSE funding were more severe for the Pilgrim House Community because it is a small organisation. The organisation was previously based in Celbridge, Co Kildare and Gorey, Co Wexford. The HSE said it had conducted a review of Pilgrim House in 2005, followed by a return visit in 2007. “Feedback found that the residents were receiving a satisfactory standard of care in a clean environment,” a spokeswoman said. “In response to a questionnaire, next of kin were satisfied with the care that
their relative was receiving.”
WE WEREN’T GOING TO STOP
OPERATIONS BECAUSE WE
MET A PROBLEM
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Filed under: Pilgrim House |