St John Ambulance urged to publicise child-abuse review

Minister writes to paramedic organisation over lack of publicity for historical inquiry

St John Ambulance has been asked to further publicise details of an ongoing independent review into historical child-sexual abuse in the voluntary paramedic organisation, following concerns it had set up "a silent investigation."

Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman wrote to the organisation in recent weeks asking it to take further steps to ventilate information about the ongoing review.

Dr Geoffrey Shannon, a child law expert, is leading the review, which is examining how the organisation handled past reports of child abuse.

The review is expected to be completed before the end of the year. It will include an examination of the organisation’s files, interviews with abuse survivors as well as past and current volunteers.

Speaking in the Seanad last month, Senator Lynn Ruane criticised the organisation for failing to properly advertise the review and accused it of attempting to create "a silent investigation".

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

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


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

In a May 21st letter, Mr O'Gorman wrote to John Hughes, the organisation's commissioner, stating he was aware "of some concerns that knowledge of the review has not reached a wide enough audience".

“There may be past and present volunteers and members of the public who have pertinent information relevant to Dr Shannon’s work but who are not aware of the review,” he said.

Mr O’Gorman asked the commissioner if “now may be a suitable juncture to further publicise the ongoing review”?

Following the letter, the organisation published several posts on Twitter about the review, including how to contact Dr Shannon.

It is understood the organisation intends to write to all of its membership in the near future, to further advertise details of the review.

  • 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:
Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times