House of Prayer 'mistreated OAP'

The Sunday Times, UK/August 23, 2009

Anthony Tierney, a former devotee of Christina Gallagher, the self-styled Marian visionary, is suing the House of Prayer in Achill, claiming he was denied medical care after falling from a ladder at the Co Mayo retreat last year.

The pensioner, who claims to have handed over "thousands of euros" to the organisation, alleges that he was locked in a room for a weekend following the accident. He claims he was denied access to a doctor because the organisation is "obsessed with secrecy" and fearful of negative publicity.

The House of Prayer has faced growing criticism from former followers, who claim they were "coerced" into donating large sums of money to Gallagher's organisation.

Tierney, who moved to Ireland to live in the House of Prayer where he did "odd jobs", has now returned to Peterborough in England. His solicitors lodged a personal injuries claim in the High Court last week and are in the process of serving papers on the House of Prayer.

The accident happened while Tierney was cleaning windows on April 4, 2008. He was one of a number of people living at the retreat who carried out routine maintenance and cleaning in exchange for lodgings and an allowance. Tierney injured his knee when a ladder he was using to clean the top windows slipped. Despite requesting medical attention, he says he wasn't brought to see a doctor until the afternoon of April 7. He later had surgery at Castlebar General Hospital.

Tierney says he was "kept in a room for three days in total agony" and "treated like a dog". He claims he is owed £8,000 for his work at the prayer centre.

During his recuperation, Gallagher telephoned to ask him to return to England. Tierney believes that Gallagher "wanted him out" because she was afraid of negative publicity. The House of Prayer refused to comment this weekend.

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