Scouting Ireland has been contacted by 80 alleged victims in the wake of shocking revelations of sexual abuse over many decades in the organisation.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone met with the chair and CEO of Scouting Ireland, as well as Ian Elliot, who has been tasked with carrying out an independent assessment of historical files held by the organisation.
Last week, Mr Elliot revealed that he had identified 71 alleged abusers and 108 alleged victims after trawling through records held by Scouting Ireland, but also through people making contact with him.
Mr Elliot told the Oireachtas Children’s Committee that he expected this number to increase as he continued with his work and as more members of the public came forward.
After meeting with representatives of Scouting Ireland yesterday evening Ms Zappone said she has now been promised a “verified update” on the number of alleged victims and alleged perpetrators in mid-December.
“Scouting Ireland has advised me that, since last week, there have been 80 phone calls to the confidential helpline from people identifying as victims,” she said after the meeting.
A confidential freephone helpline was established by Scouting Ireland for any other victims to make contact in the wake of the revelations.
Tusla has also put a confidential helpline in place.
Ms Zappone said: “I discussed with the Scouting Ireland representatives the steps they are taking to ensure that all alleged abuse victims who have already come forward are being properly supported and counselled and that the same level of support will be made available to any further victims that may come forward.
“I sought reassurance from the representatives that the historic review is continuing and that all allegations found within the historic files or subsequently brought to the attention of Scouting Ireland will be immediately referred to Tusla and to the Gardaí or any other relevant police authority.”
Prior to the meeting, the minister had indicated that she would not be ruling out a State-backed redress scheme and counselling services for those impacted and there was some discussion with Scouting Ireland about the costs associated with putting in place and maintaining the necessary supports for victims who come forward and how they plan to meet those costs.
Mr Elliot last week told members of the Oireachtas Children’s Committee that 14 of the 71 alleged perpetrators had multiple victims.
He said: “The figure of 108 victims is an important one but I want you to think of that not in numerical terms but in human terms — that is, 108 people who have suffered and who are suffering today as a result of situations which they should never have been exposed to.”
The minister last night encouraged anyone who was abused while participating in scouting activities or who wishes to name an alleged perpetrator of abuse to contact either of the two help-lines.
Members of the public can contact the Scouting Ireland helpline on 1800 221199 or the Tusla helpline on 1800 805665.