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St John’s Ambulance Abuse
Coleman Legal LLP
June 20, 2023
Tusla investigation reveals abuse by senior St John’s Ambulance members. Multiple victims have come forward, leading to renewed scrutiny and calls for improved safeguarding practices.

St John’s Ambulance faces scrutiny over historical child abuse allegations

A Tusla investigation has been carried out into allegations of sexual abuse by senior members of St John’s Ambulance first aid organisation.

More than 16 victims came forward and reported that they were abused by a senior member of the organisation’s Old Kilmainham division in Dublin between the early 1960s and late 1990s.

It was found that the organisation removed this member in 2000 after one victim reported the abuse. It is now reported that Tusla records show that further victims came forward and have reported abuse by two further individuals involved with St Johns Ambulance.

These two perpetrators are now deceased, and this information was revealed through a briefing prepared for an Oireachtas committee hearing in April this year. The briefing, which contained internal documents from Tusla, outlined that 11 cases of alleged abuse in St John Ambulance had been reported to the agency to date.

Reporters at the Irish Times requested the information in the documents and notes made at the briefing, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act and have reported on these details recently. The briefing referred to the one individual who is still alive: the now 84-year-old senior member who was removed from the organisation in 2000.

It stated that the allegations and this member had been “founded” following the investigation carried out by Tusla. Gardaí are currently investigating several allegations of historical child sexual abuse by the former senior figure.

The internal documents show how there was more than one perpetrator of abuse within the organisation and suggest that there was an internal issue of abusers being able to access children through their positions of power.

These new revelations follow the publication of an independent report, headed by Justice Geoffrey Shannon, which found that St John Ambulance had for years failed to intervene, despite a “significant degree of organisational awareness” and knowledge of the risk the former senior figure posed to children.

The report, published in March of this year, found that the structure and culture at St John’s Ambulance’s structure and culture “facilitated” potential grooming of children, and “failed to intervene or investigate despite evidence of potential risks”.

The report further commented on current Garda vetting practices within the organisation, criticising the standards for background checks on new members. Further criticism was made on the handling of several recent child protection issues.

You can read the report here: View the complete report

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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Clodagh Magennis

Clodagh Magennis

Head of Client Services

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