Abuse at Scouting Ireland was ‘covered up’ for decades - review

More than 300 victims of alleged child sexual abuse at the organisation have been identified

Scouting Ireland has identified more than 300 victims of alleged child sexual abuse, amid emerging evidence that abuse was "covered up" in the youth organisation for decades.

Volunteers who allegedly preyed on children were “protected” and permitted to move from group to group, a meeting of senior scout leaders was told on Monday night. An ongoing historic review in the organisation has now identified 317 alleged victims, and 212 alleged child abusers.

The number of known alleged perpetrators and victims has nearly tripled in the three weeks since the abuse scandal was disclosed before an Oireachtas committee.

Aisling Kelly, chair of the organisation's new board, told a private meeting of senior volunteers on Monday night a picture was emerging of "extensive, prolonged, and at times organised child sexual abuse" from the organisation's past.


“It happened within all levels within the organisation, all strata within the organisation, all counties. It is a situation where people knew of and protected alleged abusers. It’s a situation where people allowed abusers to move from group to group,” Ms Kelly said.

‘Deeply sorry’

“There is information emerging that would support the conclusion that certain things were covered up,” she told the meeting.

The majority of the alleged abuse occurred between the 1960s and the 1990s, but some cases date back to the 1940s, the meeting heard.

Scouting Ireland formed in 2004 following a merger of two legacy organisations, the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and the Scout Association of Ireland.

In a statement, Scouting Ireland confirmed evidence had emerged “of alleged perpetrators being moved within scout groups”.

The organisation said it was “deeply sorry” that anyone who would have expected to be safe in previous legacy organisations were not.

Scouting Ireland expects the number of alleged victims and abusers to continue to increase, the meeting heard.

The organisation’s board is considering emergency financial measures, including selling assets, to fund a victims’ support scheme, Ms Kelly told the meeting.

The internal review of past abuse is being led by child safeguarding expert Ian Elliott, and has included an audit of historic files, and information from individuals coming forward.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times