Alleged abuse reported to St John Ambulance review

Alleged perpetrator, now deceased, was a volunteer in Glenageary unit of organisation

The alleged perpetrator man was a member of the voluntary organisation in the 1960s, and is believed to have held a role working with juvenile members. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

The alleged perpetrator man was a member of the voluntary organisation in the 1960s, and is believed to have held a role working with juvenile members. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Allegations against another former officer in St John Ambulance have been reported to an ongoing independent review investigating historical child abuse in the voluntary paramedic organisation.

The alleged abuse involved a relative, beginning with inappropriate touching at a young age, before later progressing to an incident of alleged rape when the survivor was in his late teens.

The alleged perpetrator, now deceased, was a volunteer in the Glenageary unit of St John Ambulance, which is based in Dún Laoghaire, south Co Dublin.

The man was a member of the voluntary organisation in the 1960s, and is believed to have held a role working with juvenile members.

The alleged victim, who was not a member of St John Ambulance, made the disclosure to a review examining past child abuse in the organisation. The review is led by child law expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon, and is to produce a report by the end of the year.

The man making the allegations, who does not wish to be identified, made a disclosure to the review recently.

The disclosure, seen by The Irish Times, stated the man had been molested by a “trusted” relative. “This went on in low intensity abuse for years, and culminated in my being raped,” he claimed.

The survivor said “my fear is that I was not the only one”, given his relative’s role in St John Ambulance, and other positions coaching youth sports in the area.

The man, now aged in his late 70s, said he had been “haunted” by the abuse for most of his life. It had “preyed” on his mind for years. He regretted not taking the matter further in the 1960s, but added “those times were different”.

Past complaints

A spokesman for St John Ambulance said the organisation could not comment on the allegations due to the ongoing independent review.

Dr Shannon is to begin interviews with abuse survivors, and current and former volunteers in the organisation, in mid-September.

The interviews are expected to take place over a number of weeks, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.

An examination of the organisation’s records and files is also taking place, to assess how any past complaints of abuse were handled.

The review was commissioned following reports by The Irish Times last year, which stated several men had allegedly been sexually abused in the 1990s by a separate former senior figure in St John Ambulance.

The alleged abuser in those instances, a man now in his 80s, was a senior figure in the organisation’s Old Kilmainham division until at least 2000.

Following the media reports a number of other survivors came forward alleging abuse at the hands of the same individual, with a new Garda inquiry opened into the claims.

Tusla, the State child and family agency, previously investigated several of the child abuse complaints against the man, and determined the allegations to be founded.

Anyone with information related to historical child abuse in St John Ambulance has been asked to contact Dr Geoffrey Shannon and the independent review at: g.shannon@stjohnambulancereview.ie