Senior scouting volunteers, thought to be sex offenders, shared information with each other about their abuse and took steps to facilitate that abuse for each other, it has emerged.
Chairperson of Scouting Ireland, Adrian Tennant, said the revelation made by child protection expert, Ian Elliott, in his
Mr Tennant said sexual predators used the movement to abuse people and destroy lives.
“Where cronyism is present, it permits unscrupulous behaviours to go unchecked, such as sexual abuse,” he said.
There were many adult volunteers in scouting groups who did try to protect young people and alerted national officers
Mr Tennant said he wanted to recognise the volunteers who tried to make a stand, sometimes at a personal cost to themselves.
He said the current board of Scouting Ireland was in office now for 20 months and driving forward a completely new approach to good governance and accountability.
Chief executive of Scouting Ireland, Anne Griffin, said, regrettably, Mr Elliott found elements of cronyism within Scouting Ireland.
She believed the new governance structures will help the organisation stamp out any lingering elements of this “damaging behaviour.”
A significant problem identified by Mr Elliott was the improper keeping of safeguarding records by the legacy organisations.
Often, there were no records of known safeguarding complaints and some files were held by former national officers.
Scouting Ireland is committed to ensuring that all records concerning the organisation are centrally stored, monitored and easily retrievable.
Ms Griffin said they were digitising all paper files onto their secure electronic server.
“Since our establishment in 2004, Scouting Ireland has always disclosed to the relevant authorities any complaints that required disclosure,” she said.
Scouting Ireland's safeguarding manager, Gearoid Begley, encouraged parents and guardians to satisfy themselves about safeguarding in their child's scout group.
“Never assume and never presume. Ask,” he said.
“Cronyism, looking away and covering up are not victimless crimes. They are enabling actions,” he said.
Ms Griffin said they were aware of approximately 18 cases relating to Scouting Ireland that were going through the legal process and they had received “initial communication” from solicitors of a further 18 to 19 cases.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, said she was glad Mr Elliott was very positive about the current governance arrangements in Scouting Ireland.