"Wexford pilgrim admitted to Greece" - by Helena Smith, in Athens
("Irish Times", October 15, 1999)
Arriving in Greece, members of the Pilgrim House Community spent their first day in a country that would accept their presence yesterday after being deported from Israel and denied entry to Cyprus amid allegations of belonging to a "doomsday cult".
The Catholic group, from Co Wexford, were taken by Irish consular officials to Corinth.
"We are going to settle here for a couple of days," said Ms Margaret Foley, a spokeswoman for the group whose members include 18 Irish, six Romanian children and one Colombian woman. She said families, single people and a "religious brother" were among the group.
"Frankly, we are all in a state of shock. We can't believe the things that have been said of us, that we're members of a sect, cult, suicide pact and terrorists. Or, for that matter, the bizarre questions that we have had to answer to defend ourselves."
Another spokesman, Mr Martin Smith, denied Greek media reports that some members of the group, which also comprises mentally and physically handicapped people, had headed for Patras and made straight for Italy. "We are all here," he said.
Asked if the pilgrims were considering returning to Israel, where they had hoped to mark the millennium at holy sites in Jerusalem, he added: "We are going to have to think about that. News has reached us that Israeli authorities are reviewing our application, which is tantamount to them accepting their mistake."
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