Castleconnell in cult claim

Limerick Post, Ireland/August 9, 2007
By John Shaughnessy

Leading figures in Castleconnell were puzzled this week at claims that a religious cult, which allegedly organised sex between children and adults, operated from the area for a period in the mid 1990s.

In a shocking new book published by the reputable firm of Harper Collins, 26-year-old Julianna Buhring, and her sisters Kristina and Celeste, tell readers that the Children of God cult, of which their family were members, had one of its communes in a big country house, away from public view, in the suburbs of Limerick.

And she is convinced that the commune is still active in Limerick. Confirming that Castleconnell was their Limerick base in the 1990s, she said the commune may have moved on from the area to avoid drawing attention to themselves, "but I do believe they are in another part of the county".

She adds:"The children of God, now known as The Family International, started off as a Christian fundamentalist group. But then it diverted into paedophilia, incest and being brainwashed - all led by our leader David Berg, who twisted Bible excerpts, saying that everything done in love is good and sex was the highest expression of love".

When contacted by the Limerick Post this Wednesday at her Bristol home, Ms Buhring recalled walking the main street in Castleconnell -"I remember going up a hill with a pub at the top, and there was a posh hotel nearby. There was also an estate of houses. We had no contact with the local people and neither could the person who rented the house have known what was going on. We were never allowed out of the grounds of the house on our own. There were about 20 of us in the house, of different nationalities".

However, hotelier Michael Fagan, former owner of the Castle Oaks Hotel in Castleconnell, and who resided nearby, said he never noticed anything suspicious or strange in the period mentioned in the book.

"Neither did I hear any rumours. But then, if these people kept to themselves and were rarely seen out around they might have passed off as visitors by those of us who crossed their paths".

Matt Whelan, a retired garda and who had served in Castleconnell in the 1990s, told the Post that if the cult had lived in the area suspicions were not aroused.

"This is new to me", he replied, when told of the claims made in the book, Not Without My Sister.

Meanwhile, retired businessman John Mitchell, also said he was unaware of any unusual happenings -"there was certainly no gossip around the village".

In her interview with the Post, Ms Buhring recalled visiting a Limerick shopping Centre

"We used to dress up as clowns in Limerick and make a living doing face paintings and going to shopping malls etc. And we raked in loads of money but this all went to the family leadership.

Ms Buhring, who is travelling to Dublin to give a 'live' TV interview on TV 3 on Friday morning, lived with her parents, both British hippies, and her two sisters, Celeste and Kristina.

Her father, Christopher Jones, who, it is claimed, has 15 children by eight women, is currently living in the cult's commune in Uganda, Africa, where Julianna finally broke free, along with her mother.

The book tells about their struggle to escape the perverse community that robbed them of their childhood and saw them live in dozens of countries world-wide to maintain secrecy. The three sisters work for a new organisation called RISE International set up to protect children from abuse in cults.

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