Scouting Ireland criticised over recent Oireachtas appearance

Scouting Ireland bosses have been slammed over their recent Oireachtas appearance.

Scouting Ireland criticised over recent Oireachtas appearance

Scouting Ireland bosses have been slammed over their recent Oireachtas appearance.

Boy scout sex abuse survivors say Scouting Ireland's insistence at the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs on Wednesday that their staff did nothing wrong just "adds insult to injury" and repeated their call for a public inquiry into boy scout sex abuse.

They have also dismissed safeguarding consultant Ian Elliott’s review for Scouting Ireland into historic sex abuse in the scouting movement.

Paul O’Toole, who survived abuse by former scout leader David O’Brien, said: “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.

“The fact that Scouting Ireland has hired Mr Elliott to review files is all very well but there needs to be a full, unrestricted public inquiry into what happened.

“His review is not an independent one and that is what we need.”

A spokesperson for Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone told the Irish Examiner: “Minister Zappone is giving careful consideration into the question of an appropriate statutory inquiry into the handling of abuse in the scouting movement.

“She will take a decision as soon as possible on the best way to proceed."

“The Minister has found the forensic work undertaken by the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs to be helpful in respect of decisions that she will have to make about Scouting Ireland.”

Chairperson Adrian Tennant said on Wednesday Scouting Ireland had inherited a "grim and shocking" legacy of sex abuse issues, for which he apologised.

He denied claims the scouting body did not adequately handle abuse allegations brought to its attention.

Those claims were aired on an RTÉ Investigates programme which revealed how one alleged sexual predator who abused scouts for decades was only removed from Scouting Ireland last year.

The programme also reported allegations that Scouting Ireland failed to alert statutory authorities about suspected predators.

Mr Tennant described to members of the joint Oireachtas committee the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and the Scouting Association of Ireland as “legacy organisations” and he insisted that Scouting Ireland is a “very different organisation”.

He also insisted Scouting Ireland has “always reported any reportable offences”.

Scouting Ireland currently holds 995 files on complaints.

These include all files from Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and the Scouting Association of Ireland and all Scouting Ireland files from 2003 to January this year.

A total of 401 have been classified as containing allegations of sexual abuse, with 321 cases involving adults abusing youths.

Both Mr Tennant and the scouting body’s safeguarding officer were unable to say how many of the complaint files have been passed to Tusla and gardaí.

CEO Dr John Lawlor insisted he and his staff did their jobs and reported almost every allegation about misconduct they received.

Mr O’Toole said: “What Scouting Ireland said at the joint Oireachtas committee on Wednesday was just insulting. It adds insult to injury.

“They make much of the fact that they are a new organisation and nothing to do with what they say are legacy organisations.”

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