Introducing Dialogue Ireland Trust
Ireland, like most European countries, has in recent decades been experiencing the presence of New Religious Movements (NRMs). The term NRM can be understood to include spiritual, as well as religious, movements properly so called. “New” may refer to movements that have been founded mainly over the past fifty years, though older movements are sometimes included. However the term, as Dialogue Ireland use it, also includes centuries-old movements that are new to Ireland, or indeed to the entire western world.
While the vast majority of such groups were an overall positive experience, this was not always the case. Over time many young people and their families who had become involved with some of these groups turned to the churches for guidance and support.
In the 1980′s, a number of people from different Christian churches became pastorally involved in this area. These included Fr Martin Tierney of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Mike Garde, a Mennonite and Dominican priest Fr. Louis Hughes. Subsequently the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin appointed Fr Tierney as Chairperson of a committee established to provide information and necessary pastoral care in relation to new religious movements. Later in 1992 it was felt that this ministry should best be approached from an ecumenical perspective, and the leaders of the other mainline Christian Churches in Dublin responded positively to an invitation to participate in the work of the committee. The committee engaged Mike Garde as field worker, his role being to give advice, information and support to people seeking assistance. We are not a counselling service, but will always advise. Fr Martin Tierney retired from the work over 10 years ago. He was a pioneer in the field in Ireland with his book, “The New Elect.” He died in May 2010.
Members of this committee established contact with the ecumenical Lutheran group, Dialogue Centre International in Denmark, which was already engaged in a similar ministry in Scandinavia. This link and the membership of the General Assembly of the European Federation of Centres for Research and Education on Sects (FECRIS) gives a connection to colleagues from Siberia in the East to ourselves in the West. Fecris represents the French tradition of secularity which tends to stress deeds not creeds, whereas the Dialogue Centres tend to say you can’t understand deeds without understanding the creeds.
Further developments took place in 2001 when Dialogue Ireland, though continuing to be supported by the churches, became an independent Trust, thus giving it greater freedom in carrying out its mission. Though Dialogue Ireland has its origins as a Christian organisation it is now open to all belief systems and none. In conclusion we have moved from being a Faith based group to one that is involved in protecting the Human Rights of the victims of cultism. All we require is that those working with us share a common understanding of cultism.
Mike Garde is now the Director of Dialogue Ireland and is supported by a strong executive committee. Because of harassment in the past this committee is not listed here, but any information about them is available to genuine enquirers.