'You are believed': Scouting Ireland issues apology to victims and survivors of abuse

Scouting Ireland has issued an apology to victims and survivors of sexual abuse after a report found there was a cover-up and a failure to report abuse.

To date, it has been revealed there were 212 known and alleged perpetrators and 317 alleged victims over the last 70 years.

Last year, the government said it would consider a statutory inquiry into allegations of historical sexual abuse at the organisation.

Scouting Ireland commissioned safeguarding expert Ian Elliott to undertake an independent learning review into historical sexual abuse in the organisation.

It said it has accepted the report, entitled Historical Sexual Abuse In Scouting: A Learning Review, in full.

In his report, Mr Elliott said people in Scouting Ireland who had a sexual interest in young people rose to positions of power and influence within the organisation.

He wrote: “A characteristic of the poor governance that existed in scouting was the existence of a culture driven by self-interest, with little attention paid to the young people involved.

“Small cliques emerged and played too great a part in how the scouting bodies operated.

“Individuals who had a sexual interest in young people, rose to positions of power and influence on occasions and controlled any fledgling accountability processes, preventing known offenders from being removed from scouting.

“Cronyism thrived and remained a significant problem in scouting up to and including the reviewer’s involvement with Scouting Ireland.”

Mr Elliott said poor governance structures contributed greatly to the failure of scouting to consistently and comprehensively address abuse.

“Individuals who behaved badly, were not held to account through robust, and timely disciplinary processes.

“The introduction of an accountability framework was resisted.”

In his conclusion, Mr Elliott said any objective examination of the evidence presented to the review, would lead to the conclusion that scouting failed to protect vulnerable young people and allowed risky individuals to operate for too long a period.

There was a reluctance to hold people to account and to recognise the reason why the organisation existed at all which is to serve the needs of young people in a positive way.

Scouting Ireland issued an apology to victims of abuse it has “failed”.

Adrian Tennant, chairman of the board of Scouting Ireland said: “As chairperson of the Board of Scouting Ireland, as an adult volunteer and as a father, I wish to make an organisational apology to the victims and survivors of historical sexual abuse in scouting who were failed.

“On behalf of Scouting Ireland, I unreservedly apologise to you.

“We are sorry for the hurt caused to you and the legacy of that hurt which many of you still live with today.

“We know we cannot take away that hurt.

“But we do want you to know that you have been heard.

“We want you to know that you are believed.

“We want you to know that we will support you.”

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