By: Michael O’Farrell
A PR guru linked to a cult-like religious group tried to censor revelations about her involvement by purchasing all copies of the Irish Mail on Sunday in several towns across north Dublin last week.
Mary Carberry was one of three people the MoS linked to the Maria Divine Mercy organisation – a money-making sect that has been spreading doomsday prophecies purportedly from God.
Since 2010 an anonymous Irishwoman calling herself Maria Divine Mercy has been posting what she claims are divine messages online, attracting more than half a million registered followers and millions of new hits annually.
The MDM messages have been condemned by Church leaders worldwide, with some bishops forbidding the use and dissemination of all MDM materials.
Last week, the MoS used a forensic expert to prove that the voice of a woman calling herself MDM – recorded during a 2011 interview with a US Christian radio station – matched that of PR executive Mary Carberry.
Others linked to MDM through related companies associated with book and medal sales include Mrs Carberry’s daughter, Sarah, and millionaire retired dentist Breffni Cully who styles himself Joseph Gabriel at MDM events. MDM followers are encouraged to buy books and medals and one message says those who have salvation medals will be saved.
Following publication of last week’s article, the MoS learned that a woman had bought up hundreds of copies of the newspaper soon after shops opened. This week, the MoS visited more than a dozen newsagents, petrol stations and convenience stores in the Clare Hall, Portmarnock and Malahide areas, all of which confirmed that a woman had purchased all copies of the paper early on Sunday morning.
Staff in many of the outlets identified Mrs Carberry – a resident of Malahide – as the woman who made the purchase. In all, several hundred papers appear to have been purchased across a swathe of north Co. Dublin.
Mrs Carberry’s purchases ranged from eight copies in a small village shop to more than 130 in larger outlets. At one of the larger stores, she asked for but was refused a discount.
‘I’d definitely know her to see in person. She bought 50,’ one shop attendant said.
‘She said it was regarding an internet troll. She made it sound really serious. She was adamant she had to buy all the papers.’ Other shopkeepers reported being told an assortment of reasons by Mrs Carberry – including that she wanted to avail of a promotion in the newspaper and that she was involved in a charity featured in the paper.
‘She said there was a very tricky situation in the paper and she said she went from Tesco in Clare Hall to Portmarnock,’ one shop worker remembers being told.
‘We carried the papers out to the car for her and her boot was full and the back seat up to the roof was full.’ ‘I’m 100% sure that was her. It was all paid for on the credit card.’ Another till assistant said: ‘She bought about 25. She came in and said she’d bought all the papers from Clare Hall all along the way in every shop in Malahide and then she was going to Swords.’ One smaller shop heard of the strange purchasing pattern in advance and placed its copies behind the counter for regulars.
‘There’s a man who comes in here and he always buys the Mail but we were out of stock and he went around the other shops and came back to say they were all sold out,’ one shop proprietor said.
To ensure regular readers got their paper, the MoS circulated extra copies to affected newsagents on Monday to be distributed the following day. But while many residents of north Dublin’s coastal towns may have been denied the chance to read about MDM, the issue was aired nationally for three days this week by Joe Duffy’s Liveline.
The RTÉ Radio 1 show heard from several MDM supporters – and one disillusioned former member – as Duffy repeatedly sought to establish the identity of the Dublin woman behind MDM.
Despite a repeated open invitation for Maria Divine Mercy to come on air, the show heard nothing from her. Mary Carberry was named at one point – but only as an associate of controversial visionary Joe Coleman and only using her maiden name, Mary McGovern.
Speaking on the show, one disillusioned former follower said he had lost faith with MDM when her prophecies of the Second Coming – initially predicted for 2011 – failed to materialise.
‘I wrote an email to her,’ he recalled. ‘She said Our Lord had not specifically mentioned a particular year… I became disillusioned with it.’ Yet several others spoke of their passion for and belief in MDM.
‘I love the messages from Jesus,’ said one follower, who was not concerned about warnings from Church leaders such as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Mrs Carberry and her daughter Sarah did not respond to letters delivered personally to their home and business addresses this week, just as last week.
However, when approached directly by the MoS three weeks ago Mrs Carberry responded only briefly to say she was being unfairly targeted by bloggers.
‘I’m sorry. I am not going to get involved with internet trolls who are trying to destroy my life because of a job I did for somebody. That’s all I have to say,’ she said.