Further man reports alleged sex abuse to St John Ambulance review

Dr Geoffrey Shannon is examining historical abuse in voluntary paramedic organisation

A further survivor of alleged historical child sexual abuse in voluntary paramedic organisation, St John Ambulance, has reported the alleged abuse to an ongoing independent review.

The review, commissioned nearly a year ago, is being led by child law expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon, and has interviewed a large number of witnesses, including abuse survivors, and current and former volunteers.

The review was commissioned by the organisation after The Irish Times reported that several men had allegedly been sexually abused by a senior figure in the organisation’s Old Kilmainham division in Dublin in the 1990s.

The individual, now aged in his 80s, was a member of the organisation from the 1950s until at least 2000, leaving under pressure to resign after one survivor reported the alleged abuse.

Following initial media reports a number of further men came forward disclosing they were allegedly sexually abused by the man as children. To date at least seven men have claimed they were sexually abused by the same former senior figure, in alleged incidents dating from the late 1960s to the late 1990s.

The seventh alleged survivor, who reported the abuse to the independent review late last month, claimed he had been sexually abused by the former senior figure during the mid-1980s.

The man said he had joined the Old Kilmainham unit of the organisation as a cadet, when he was around 13 years of age.

In an email to the review, he alleges he was molested by the former senior volunteer, who he claimed touched his genitals under the guise of demonstrating a first-aid check. The alleged incident took place in a hall used by the paramedic organisation in Rialto, Dublin 8, he said.

The alleged victim, who spoke to The Irish Times but did not wish to be named, said he had been “very upset” to read media reports of child abuse in St John Ambulance during the 1990s, as he felt guilty for not reporting what had allegedly happened to him during the previous decade.

The independent review team is expected to complete its report into the past abuse in the first half of this year.

The organisation has said it cannot comment on individual cases while the review is ongoing, but has maintained it has a robust child protection policy, with a rigorous recruitment and vetting process for volunteers.

In a recent Dáil debate, Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews called for sporting bodies and community groups to avoid using St John Ambulance’s first-aid services at events, while Dr Shannon’s review was ongoing.