Latest News


Defective Blocks

Defective Blocks newsletter and latest updates.

Read More

Mother & Baby Homes

Mother and Baby Homes redress newsletter and latest updates.

Read More

CAMHS Review

CAMHS newsletter and latest updates.

Read More

Scouting Ireland’s abuse claims requests public examination
Coleman Legal LLP
Nov 13, 2019
The handling of sex abuse allegations arising out of the activities of members of the former Scouting organisations the Catholic Boy Scouts in Ireland and Scouting Association of Ireland have been heavily criticised this week, with calls for a full independent public inquiry being made. 

This follows reports emerging this week, that these organisations which merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004, saw complaints being made against a former scout leader in the 1980‘s which went unaddressed, and which reportedly saw alleged abusers being moved from one part of the organisation to another without repercussions. In an RTÉ investigates program which will be broadcasted this evening, former scouts who claim to have been abused during their time with the organisation have expressed grave concerns regarding Scouting Ireland, in enabling them to carry out reviews and complaints of their own legacy organisations own conduct. These concerns have been echoed by among others a prominent safeguarding expert and Micheal Martin TD.

It’s been made known that a former scout leader who had been removed from the organization at the time of his arrest last year, was first brought to the attention by a parent to the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland leadership (CBSI) in 1987.

Even though being reprimanded about taking scouts boys to his home, he had continued doing so and by doing this had led to an additional complaint. This complaint had been taken to the CBSI in late 1996, the leader has now been placed under investigation and statements have been taken from the alleged victim. Investigators from the RTÉ has confronted several abused former scouts members. There is a huge amount of discomfort and unhappiness towards the Government as they are allowing Scouting Ireland to continue with there own historic reviews of complaints, resulting in them seeking independent inquiry instead. Geoffrey Shannon, child law expert said that any historic abuse reviews should be independent and not include any members of the organization while being reviewed. “It should be prompt particularly in the context of children because other children may be at risk and it should be transparent, in other words, the results of the review should be made publicly available.” 

Historic complaint review files from the Scouting Ireland 2017, has been requested not to be published till February 2020.

There have been a number of child abuse complaints which have been handed over to the CBSI and been evaluated by RTÉ investigators. The Scouting Ireland has been requested not to submit any complaints to the governance code of the Charities Regulatory Authority up until December 2020. Highlights of the program throughout the series of case studies have a number of scout leaders in the SAI and CBSI have been enabled to sexually assault cubs and scouts for longer periods, without exposure or complaints.

The Minister of Children Katherine Zappone has received a brief document from Scouting Ireland which stated that the historic review found on a number of perpetrators “moved from one local group to another” and “in one case moved between two different scouting organizations”. 

Former scouts leader and convicted sex offender David O’Brien have moved around at least five different scout troops and on his own admission, he had sexually abused approximately 60 boys who are known to be younger cubs. With O’Brien moving around he was able to avoid justice during the ’70s and ’80s. “They shattered my soul. They killed my soul”

With parents complaining about his behavior in the 49th Ardlea; David was extracted from the troop however, he was given the ability to move to another troop; this time with the CBSI in Westland Row. The abuse that he had placed upon many young children, now men have had a drastic impact on their lives. David O’Brien was convicted in 2015 for the assault of six men and received a four-and-a-half-year sentence, and last month convicted for an additional four people and got a sentence of six-and-a-half-years.

Paul O’Toole was offended on different occasions and mentioned that his life was changed since the abuse started, he went onto say that he would scream as loud as he could but there was nothing but a whole lot of pine trees in every direction. 

Dave Smyth another victim said that since the abuse started when he was only 11-years-old, this changed his life and got him addicted to alcohol which caused him to have a terrible youth. He then moved to the US and has been there ever since. 

Its been revealed in the program the second convicted sexual offender James Leddy; a patrol leader had been operating in the same troop at the same time as David O’Brien. 

Scouting Ireland’s current CEO Dr John Lawlor discovered in the briefed document to Minister Zappone, how the historic review files were utilized as “evidence cover up” in the organizations. Lawlor also discovered “extensive, prolonged and organized child sexual abuse” and how “adult members who preyed on children were protected.”

Former organizations had failed in taking necessary action when complaints were made regarding the abuse. There had been a delay in reporting former scouts leader Joseph Nugent; while in the process of removing Nugent, he was however given access to local sport club children. Nugent was convicted in 2008 on nine courts. 

There have been a number of complaints that have gone unknown until recently, however, files from the previous offenders have gone missing in the 1990s; the reason being Scouting Ireland has taken many years to review there own complaints files and the remaining had been left unopened. An internal review of 332 files had been analyzed in 2012 of which five cases had been reported.

With these reviews and complaints, it took an additional five years for Scouting Ireland to employ a child protection authority Ian Elliott, who had safeguarded the procedures. This resulted in Scouting Ireland confirming to roughly 1,000 complaint files which had been held and half in relation to abuse; this led to 176 cases to Gardaí and the PSNI placing them under investigation.

The Scouting Ireland deeply regrets “the hurt caused to children through the unlawful and unacceptable actions of adults in these organizations”. Leo Varadkar added, “children must be protected and perpetrators must be brought to justice”. The Scouting Ireland protection policies should be fit for purpose.
Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

Speak to our Experienced Solicitors

We understand that navigating the legal system can be overwhelming and stressful, which is why we are dedicated to providing clear communication and support to our clients every step of the way