Calls for inquiry into child abuse allegations against scouting organisations

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A statutory inquiry is needed into accusations of historical child abuse at the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and Scouting Association of Ireland says Anne Rabbitte.

The Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs said that an independent inquiry is needed to assess any structural failings within those scouting organisations.

An RTÉ Investigates programme aired this week contained first hand testimony of abuse survivors and the devastating impact this has had on their lives.

“The act of child abuse is the most deplorable act someone can commit. It takes away a childhood and leaves the victim with lifelong challenges,” Anne Rabbitte said.

“Some of the memories these men re-lived were haunting – the loneliness and vulnerability so palpable. These men had their childhoods robbed and their innocence stolen.”

“There were individuals within certain scouting organisations who took advantage of their position of responsibility. Those who perpetrated abuse should be brought to justice.”

Deputy Rabbitte said that Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone needs to outline what her Department is doing to address this, adding that the Minister cannot take a hands off approach.

Minister Zappone said that she has been assured that recommendations from the independent review of Scouting Ireland by Senator Jillian van Turnhout in June 2018 have been implemented in full.

She also said that Scouting Ireland have made strong progress in implementing the actions agreed with Tusla in March 2019.

That aside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this week that the government would give consideration in a statutory inquiry to handle historical allegations.

However, the Taoiseach warned that such an inquiry would have to take care not to prejudice any legal cases.

Deputy Rabbitte said that an inquiry into allegations of a cover up of these crimes needs to be investigated promptly.

“We have to put the safety of children first. Sadly, we have a long and dark history of child sexual abuse in this State,” she concluded.