Police outside State contacted about alleged Scouting Ireland abusers
Many of alleged abusers may be living outside Ireland
Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary called for a specific helpline to be established to allow people come forward confidentially
Police forces outside the State have been contacted about alleged child sexual abusers who had been involved with Scouting Ireland, the Dáil has been told.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said that reports had been made to “police forces in jurisdictions where many of the alleged abusers may be living”.
His comments follow the revelations on Wednesday that a historical review of child abuse cases in Scouting Ireland identified 108 sexual abuse cases involving 71 alleged abusers mainly from the 1960s and 1980s.
Minister for Children Katherine Zappone released the information to the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs.
Mr Flanagan stressed that none of the alleged abusers were still with Scouting Ireland and reports of the cases identified to date had been made to the Child Protection Agency Tusla and An Garda Síochána.
Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary who raised the issue during Leaders’ Questions, asked what process the Government was putting in place to allow people to come forward who had not to date.
He called for a specific helpline to be established to allow them come forward confidentially and for them to be confident that they would be heard and receive justice.
Mr Calleary said one woman’s complaint of sexual abuse in 2009 when she was 18 “has opened a new and insidious and grotesque litany of sexual abuse over many decades in Scouting Ireland”.
A review was conducted in the wake of the woman’s case which led to the resignation of the board of the scouting body.
The Mayo TD expressed grave concern about reports of a serious perpetrator about whom there had been no awareness that he was a perpetrator and that there was therefore no file on him.
He asked if the Minister was satisfied with the process and that known victims would be properly and sensitively dealt with.
Questioning the capacity of Scouting Ireland to manage the situation, he said the “drip drip of information has to be stopped” to give confidence to the scouting body and to the agencies around it so that people who had been abused while part of Scouting Ireland would have confidence to come forward, “allowed to tell their story and with no inordinate delays in seeking justice”.
Mr Flanagan said he was appalled at the abuse and added that every support would be made available in order to ensure that victims could come forward and be assisted in their pursuit of justice.
The Minister acknowledged the new board in Scouting Ireland and the review of governance issues conducted by former senator Jillian van Turnhout whose report was completed in June this year.
Mr Flanagan stressed that the board had pledged to fully implement all the recommendations.
He said there would be due process and “my department will assist in any way possible with the other departments and State agencies as appropriate”.