The publication of an official report into historical cases of sexual abuse involving Scouting Ireland has stated that there is evidence of a complete lack of regard for the young people that were involved. There have been calls for a full investigation into the scandal to be conducted by the Gardai.
The report, which was commissioned by Scouting Ireland and completed by child protection consultant Ian Elliott, said the full extent of the abuse cannot be determined exactly. This is due to the fact that some records have gone missing or been destroyed.
The report, which was published yesterday, May 14, stated that “there appears to have been an almost complete absence of any concern for the young people that were abused”. Iit said that accusations of sexual were not addressed in a manner that would provide justice or protection for the abused parties involved.
Over the years investigations into historicals cases have resulted in the conviction of a number of paedophiles. However, there have now been calls, from a number of the victims,for anyone who was involved in covering up the scandal to be brought to justice by the Gardai.
Speaking to the Irish Independent Paul O’Toole, who was molested by scout leader David O’Brien in the 1970s, is calling on Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to set up a criminal probe into the widespread abuse and cover-up. He said: “We’re pushing for a police inquiry and we’re going to write to the Garda Commissioner and the Justice Minister. It’s a cover-up and we want criminal charges for that. They said the basis of it was for learning and how to do it differently. You don’t need to learn how not to abuse kids.”
Reacting to the publication of the report chair of Scouting Ireland, Adrian Tennant said that the organisation “unreservedly apologises to the victims and survivors of abuse in scouting who were failed. We are sorry that adults in scouting harmed you. We are sorry that you were not protected. We are sorry that you were not listened to or were unable to tell your story at that time. We are sorry for the hurt caused to you and the legacy of that hurt which many of you still live with today. We know we cannot take away that hurt. But we do want you to know that you have been heard.”
He went on: “We pledge to adopt and deliver the Learnings and Recommendations of this Report. It is a light pointing into a very dark corner but it is also a beacon for the standards, culture and structures we must have, and which must be resourced to ensure that Scouting is a safe place for young people”.
CEO of Scouting Ireland, Anne Griffin, reacting to the publication of the report said that the findings of the report are “deeply shocking and deeply distressing. Scouting Ireland is a very different organisation today”.
Mr Elliot’s report found that any efforts to provide assistance for young people that were abused were, at best, “poorly recorded” and referred to the culture in Scouting Ireland as being “culture driven by self-interest, with little attention paid to the young people involved” and that “cronyism thrived”.
He (Mr Elliot) also stated: “Individuals, who were suspected or known to be sex offenders, gained positions of power and became largely impregnable. It must be recognised and accepted by all that there is no greater priority for scouting today than the safeguarding of the young people that are involved with it, and the removal of anyone from scouting who places them at risk.”
Reacting to the report, Maeve Lewis, CEO of One in Four, a charity for survivors of child sexual abuse, said that it is time for those involved to face the judicial system and be made to account for their crimes. She said: “Our first thoughts must be with the hundreds of survivors who were let down by the scouting volunteers and leadership who ignored serious allegations of sexual abuse, often made by several boys or their parents,”
She said: “The pain and suffering they have carried into their adult lives is very real, and they are deserving of the most expert independent support. Where the perpetrators are still alive, every effort must be made to bring them before the criminal courts.”