Posted: May 18th, 2020
Former board chair of Scouting Ireland, Aisling Kelly, informed a room of senior volunteers from the organisation on December 10th, 2018, that there was a prospect of legal actions bring taken against the body in relation to “extensive, prolonged, and at times organised child sexual abuse”.
The them chair added that she feared such actions could “sink the organisation” if large numbers of abuse victims sought compensation from Scouting Ireland, the body that was formed from the merger of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) and the Scout Association of Ireland in 2004.
Her fears were founded on reports of massive compensation pay outs in cases such as these. The Irish Times has reported that, in recent years a single confidential settlement agreement resulted in Scouting Ireland paying over €100,000 to a man who had claimed he was sexually abused when he was a member of the CBSI as a child. Scouting Ireland has put aside €2.5 million to cover the costs of legal claims and cases from survivors. It has also set up a support fund to pay for private counselling for survivors.
Last Thursday a report in an inquiry conducted by child protection expert Ian Elliott outlined a thorough analysis of the scale of the historic abuse at the scouting organisations and described how the act failed to act in the interests of the young children.
Following the release of the report, Scouting Ireland issued a public apology to the victims and the chair of the organisation Adrian Tennant claimed that Since learning of the abuse scandal Scouting Ireland had sought to “own” responsibility for facing up to the past failings.
The report detailed how the culture of the former organisations were rife with “cronyism” and a lack of adequate governance. The result of all of this was a failure to make cases of child abuse known to the relevant authorities. It (the report) referred to Scouting Ireland as a “seriously dysfunctional organisation”, with “sex offenders dominating the leadership for decades”.
It also found a “systematic failure” of the organisations to maintain adequate records of reports of alleged abuse allegations.
Following the publication of the report. the Government is now considering whether a statutory inquiry into the past abuse is necessary. The report accounted for 356 alleged victims of historical abuse, and 275 alleged perpetrators, who primarily operated between the 1960s and 1990s.
In other jurisdictions, abuse involving scouting organisations have lead to massive financial settlement. Last February (2020), the Boys Scouts of America began bankruptcy proceeding as a result of legal actions related to law for alleged child abuse.