Historical Abuse at St. John Ambulance
In 2018 Dr. Geoffrey Shannon was asked to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of historical child abuse at St. John’s Ambulance Ireland. Dr. Shannon was the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection for the Irish Government from 2006 to 2019. He is a Senior Counsel and a senior lecturer in Family Law and Child Law at the Law Society of Ireland.
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Historical Abuse at St. John Ambulance in Ireland
Tusla conducted a statutory investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse. The investigation centered on reports by several men of historical sexual abuse by a former senior member of the organisation in its Old Kilmainham division.
The former member had been involved in the organisation from the 1950s until around 2000 when he was pressured into resigning after a survivor reported the abuse. In September 2019, Tusla’s investigations deemed that those allegations were founded.
Following Tusla’s findings, St. John’s Ambulance Ireland undertook to have an independent review carried out.
Terms of Reference for the Review
On the 8th of March 2021, the Terms of Reference of the Review were published by Saint John’s Ambulance Ireland. These were:
- A review of files held by Saint John’s Ambulance Ireland (SJAI) on past Safeguarding complaints;
- An opportunity for complainants to meet confidentially with the Reviewer and to outline their experiences of making Safeguarding complaints to SJAI;
- An opportunity for the Reviewer to meet with any Member of SJAI with a view to understanding that person’s role and responsibilities in relation to any complaints he/she may have reported to him/her in his/her time in SJAI;
- An opportunity for any Member of SJAO identified by a complainant as a recipient of a complaint to inform the Reviewer in relation to his/her actions on foot of his/her receipt of any such complaint;
- Former Members of SJAI are encouraged to assist the Reviewer by meeting him at his request to share any information or insights he/she may have on how past complaints were managed;
On the 31st of October 2022, members of SJAI were informed that Dr. Shannon had completed his review. To date this has not yet been published as Dr. Shannon awaits some assurances regarding Data Protection issues. The report is anxiously awaited by those affected by abuse at the hands of members of the organisation.
How can Coleman Legal help?
We act on behalf of both adults and children who are victims and survivors of sexual abuse, as well as those who were sexually abused as children but are now adults seeking to vindicate their rights following abuse perpetrated upon them as a minor.
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Important Client Update
On the 2nd of March 2023, the Chairman and Commissioner of Saint Johns Ambulance Ireland wrote to survivors of abuse at the hands of its former members advising of their intention to release a copy of Dr. Shannon’s report to them on the morning of the 16th of March 2023, immediately before it’s publication.
The delay in releasing the report has been heavily criticised by survivors, who are now waiting over 2 years since the Terms of Reference for the investigation was published. Dr. Shannon advised SJAI on the 31st of October 2022 that he had completed his review.
TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, wrote to SJAI in October 2022 requesting that it be ensured that the appropriate supports were in place for survivors when the report was published.
On the 12th of December 2022, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman wrote to the organisation referencing TUSLA’s request and urging that the report be released as soon as possible.
The Commissioner of SJAI replied on the 23rd of December 2023 noting that survivors were “understandably very eager to review the findings of this report”.
Coleman Legal LLP, united with and in support of our clients and survivors, await the release of Dr. Shannon’s report on the 16th of March 2023.