Over 300 alleged child abuse cases identified by Scouting Ireland
Minister expresses ‘grave concern’ as ongoing audit identifies over 200 alleged abusers
Scouting Ireland’s internal review of allegations of past abuse is being led by child safeguarding expert Ian Elliott. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.
Scouting Ireland has now identified more than 300 past victims of alleged child sexual abuse in the youth organisation.
The Irish Times understands the ongoing internal review has now identified 317 alleged victims and 212 alleged abusers.
Late last month the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone informed the Oireachtas committee on children and youth affairs that Scouting Ireland’s audit of past abuse had identified 108 alleged abuse victims, and 71 alleged abusers. In the three weeks since then the number of alleged abusers and victims has nearly tripled.
Ms Zappone said on Tuesday that the increase in alleged abusers and victims was “a matter of grave concern” and that the totals would “in all probability increase”.
“Supporting victims is my top priority. I would encourage anybody who has been abused or who wishes to name an alleged perpetrator to come forward,” she said.
Scouting Ireland’s internal review of past abuse is being led by child safeguarding expert Ian Elliott, and has included an audit of historic files, interviews with past staff and volunteers, and information from individuals coming forward in recent months claiming they were abused.
The committee meeting heard the majority of alleged incidents of abuse occurred between the 1960s and the 1980s, and that none of the 71 accused perpetrators was still involved in the organisation.
Scouting Ireland was formed in 2004 following a merger of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) and the Scouts Association of Ireland (SAI).
In the last three weeks, over 120 individuals have called a confidential helpline it set up to deal with the fallout of the scandal to allege they were subjected to child sexual abuse while in the CBSI and SAI, The Irish Times understands.
The organisation has in recent days sent an update on the latest number of alleged victims and abusers to Ms Zappone.
A group of senior volunteers were also provided with the updated figures by the organisation’s board at a private meeting on Monday night, held in their national office at Larch Hill, south Co Dublin, according to one source present.
During a previous meeting late last month, Ms Zappone sought assurances that survivors already identified in the historic review, and new survivors coming forward, were being offered appropriate support by Scouting Ireland.
The youth organisation, which has 40,000 juvenile members, has set up a victims’ support scheme to assist abuse survivors, which offers to fund counselling services.
Safeguarding standards at Scouting Ireland has been subjected to scrutiny since the start of this year 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.
Scouting Ireland’s confidential helpline can be contacted at 01-800 221199