Scouts dealing with 80 more cases of alleged sexual abuse
Katherine Zappone seeks assurances scouts offering appropriate support to survivors
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone: “I have been reassured that Scouting Ireland is taking these shocking revelations very seriously.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
Some 80 people have contacted Scouting Ireland in the last week claiming they were survivors of child sex abuse, following recent revelations of historic 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.
In a meeting with Minister for Children Katherine Zappone on Wednesday evening, Scouting Ireland officials informed her that 80 people had contacted the organisation’s confidential helpline following the announcement, also identifying as past abuse survivors.
“I have been reassured that Scouting Ireland is taking these shocking revelations very seriously,” Ms Zappone said in a statement released after the meeting.
The organisation committed to provide a “verified update” on the number of identified abuse cases and alleged perpetrators in the next two weeks, she said.
“There was some discussion with Scouting Ireland about the costs associated with putting in place and maintaining the necessary supports for victims that come forward and how they plan to meet those costs,” Ms Zappone said.
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.
Maeve Lewis, executive director of abuse survivors charity One in Four, said the charity had received calls from 24 victims of historic abuse in Scouting Ireland in the last week.
The charity had responded to a “marked increase” in calls on Monday, dealing with 10 alleged victims.
Child safeguarding expert Ian Elliott is conducting the ongoing 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 the State child protection watchdog, Tusla. In some cases, individuals are living abroad, and information has been passed to the relevant foreign authorities.
Scouting Ireland has set up a confidential helpline at 01-800 221199 for any past cases of child abuse, or people affected by the controversy, to contact the organisation. Tusla has also set up a dedicated helpline over the abuse scandal (1800 805 665).
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 Scouting Irelandhas been subjected 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.