St John Ambulance commits to share abuse report with survivors

Legal review of report to be done ‘as quick as possible’, first-aid organisation states

St John Ambulance has committed to share the findings of an independent investigation into past child abuse in the voluntary first-aid organisation with survivors, ahead of the report being published.

The independent report, carried out by child law expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon, was sent to the board of St John Ambulance in late November.

The organisation has said the report would be published after it was reviewed by its lawyers, which is expected to take another number of weeks.

In a January 10th letter to survivors who spoke to Dr Shannon, the organisation reiterated its commitment to publish the report.


The letter, signed by commissioner John Hughes and chairman David Strahan, said the organisation hoped to give survivors an early copy of the report before it was published generally.

“We fully appreciate that you and many others are understandably very eager to review the findings of this report,” the correspondence said.

“As such, we want to give you our commitment that it is our intention to publish the full report immediately after the relevant review by the board has taken place,” it said.

“This process, which is necessary for the board to undertake, is already under way and please be assured that the board is committed to ensuring it is as quick and efficient as possible,” it said.

The letter, which was sent to survivors via Dr Shannon, also commended alleged victims of past abuse in St John Ambulance for their bravery in coming forward.

The review was commissioned after The Irish Times reported that several men had allegedly been sexually abused by a senior figure in the organisation’s Old Kilmainham division in Dublin in the 1990s.

The alleged perpetrator, now in his 80s, was a member of the organisation from the 1950s until about 2000, leaving after one survivor reported the alleged abuse.

Tusla, the State child and family agency, deemed child abuse allegations made against the man to be “founded”, following its own statutory investigation in recent years.

To date nine men have spoken to The Irish Times alleging they were sexually abused by the same former senior figure, with the alleged abuse reported to have taken place between the late 1960s and late 1990s.

The sexual abuse is alleged to have happened while on first-aid duties, in the back of ambulances and in the man’s home, as well as on weekend trips organised for groups of youth members by the individual, where alcohol would be supplied.

Dr Shannon was appointed in March 2021 to carry out the independent investigation, which examined how past allegations of child abuse were handled, and reviewed current child-protection policies.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times