Garda investigates complaints over persons linked to Scouting Ireland

Force liaising with Tusla and review group after historical abuse allegations

The Garda has confirmed it had begun investigations into “a number of complaints relating to individuals associated with Scouting Ireland”. File photograph: Getty Images

The Garda has confirmed it had begun investigations into “a number of complaints relating to individuals associated with Scouting Ireland”. File photograph: Getty Images

 

An Garda Síochána has begun investigations into a number of complaints relating to individuals associated with Scouting Ireland.

Some 80 people have contacted the organisation in the last two weeks claiming they were survivors of child sex abuse, following recent revelations of historical abuse.

Last week, Scouting Ireland disclosed an internal review had identified 108 alleged child sex abuse survivors, and 71 alleged abusers, who were primarily active between the 1960s and 1980s.

While An Garda Síochána did not disclose how many complaints are being investigated or the number of individuals allegedly associated with Scouting Ireland involved, it confirmed it had begun investigations into “a number of complaints relating to individuals associated with Scouting Ireland”.

Last week, Scouting Ireland disclosed an internal review had identified 108 alleged child sex abuse survivors, and 71 alleged abusers, who were primarily active between the 1960s and 1980s. File photograph: Getty Images
Last week, Scouting Ireland disclosed an internal review had identified 108 alleged child sex abuse survivors, and 71 alleged abusers, who were primarily active between the 1960s and 1980s. File photograph: Getty Images

A spokesman said the force was continuing to liaise with the review group and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in relation to the matters, and thanked them for their assistance to date.

“Each and every complaint made to An Garda Síochána will be investigated with professionalism and compassion. An Garda Síochána is appealing to any victims who have not yet come forward to make a complaint at their local Garda station or via the confidential historical abuse phone line at 1800 555 222,” the spokesman said.

Child safeguarding expert Ian Elliott is conducting a review into past abuse in the organisation. The majority of the identified alleged abusers are deceased and none are still active in the organisation, which has 40,000 juvenile members.

Where alleged perpetrators were still alive, Scouting Ireland said it had made reports to An Garda Síochána and Tusla. In some cases, individuals are living abroad, and information has been passed to foreign authorities.

In a meeting with Minister for Children Katherine Zappone last Wednesday, Scouting Ireland officials informed her that 80 people had contacted the organisation’s confidential helpline following the announcement, also identifying as past abuse survivors.

'Verified update'

The organisation committed to provide a “verified update” on the number of identified abuse cases and alleged perpetrators in the next two weeks, the Minister said.

A report in June concluded there was a ‘deeply rooted dysfunction’ at the top of the organisation, due to a lack of transparency, and a culture of ‘blind loyalty’ to certain senior figures.
Safeguarding standards at Scouting Ireland have been subject to scrutiny since the start of 2018, when The Irish Times revealed a confidential report found the organisation’s handling of a rape allegation, concerning two adult volunteers, had been “deeply flawed”.

During the meeting, Ms Zappone sought assurances that survivors already identified in the historic review, and new survivors coming forward, were being offered appropriate support.

Scouting Ireland has set up a confidential helpline at 1800 221199 on which past cases of alleged child abuse, or people affected by the controversy, may contact the organisation. Tusla has also set up a dedicated helpline on 1800 805665.

Scouting Ireland formed in 2004, following a merger of two previous organisations – the Catholic Boys Scouts of Ireland and the Scout Association of Ireland.

Safeguarding standards at the organisation have been subject to scrutiny since the start of 2018, when The Irish Times revealed a confidential report found the organisation’s handling of a rape allegation, concerning two adult volunteers, had been “deeply flawed”.

Ms Zappone has twice suspended the organisation’s State funding in recent months over a lack of confidence in its governance.