CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Clay Irwin admits that, as of late, life has certainly been strange. The owner of the Lucky Anchor Irish Bar in downtown Clearwater told News Channel 8 he was thrilled when a contractor buddy asked him if he wanted to check out the penthouse nearby being built by actor Tom Cruise.
“I would’ve never dreamed in a million years this would’ve happened to me. Life has been interesting, no doubt about it,” Irwin told News Channel 8.
The Clearwater businessman captured the moment in Cruise’s penthouse on Facebook Live and posted it.
Shortly after, it went viral, fast.
So was the response, he says, from the Church of Scientology.
Irwin said several members of the church showed up immediately at his bar next door.
“I guess Mr. Cruise saw it, or something along those lines, and he wasn’t happy about it. I removed the video right there on the spot,” he admitted.
Irwin thought the drama was over, but now admits it was just beginning. He explained that the previously friendly members of the church turned cold quickly. No one would talk to him anymore, and the amicable chats ceased.
Worse than that, he says, he now thinks he is being watched by the church.
He claims his dog sniffed out a spy camera planted in some shrubbery across the street from his home, located not too far from his business on Cleveland Street.
That’s when he got worried and decided to put his house on the market.
“I’m still going to be neutral, because I have to work here. I’ve got my life savings in this place. It’s tough,” he said.
A public relations person from the Church of Scientology told News Channel 8 that they believe the businessman is out for “publicity” for his bar. They also said that he was committing a felony by filming the Facebook Live in the first place.
However, Irwin explained that he was invited by his contractor friend into the penthouse to take a look. When the church asked him to remove the video from social media, he did it right away.
He does admit that his friend was fired from the job three days later.
“Lots of drama,” Irwin told us. “Drama.”
The Church of Scientology issued the following statement:
“Mr. Irwin has said repeatedly that he would do whatever he can to promote his bar. It is unfortunate that it would include trespassing on personal property and making outrageous claims about his neighbors in order to promote his business. Mr. Irwin has never expressed any issue he has with the Church to anyone in the Church and he has expressed the opposite on his Facebook pages (example attached). Although Scientologists do not typically frequent bars, we nevertheless welcomed Mr. Irwin to the neighborhood with open arms.
This Church of Scientology in Clearwater serves tens of thousands of parishioners residing in Clearwater as well as thousands coming from all over the world to attend services at our international spiritual headquarters. The Church is committed to its community activities and social programs. Mr. Irwin’s bar is not our concern and any claims about the Church are fiction. In fact, until now, we thought he was our friend.”
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