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Monday 16 September 2019

Eighty complaints of abuse made to Scouting Ireland's helpline in less than a week

Katherine Zappone (Niall Carson/PA)
Katherine Zappone (Niall Carson/PA)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

EIGHTY alleged victims of abuse have contacted Scouting Ireland's helpline in less than a week.

Children's minister Katherine Zappone revealed the number this evening after meeting with the representatives of the organisation.

Scouting Ireland has been hit by controversy after a review of historical allegations of abuse found evidence of 71 suspected perpetrators and 108 victims.

Fears have been raised that the number alleged abuse victims could grow substantially.

Ms Zappone said she met with representatives of the organisation today to discuss her concerns about the revelations that emerged last Wednesday.

She said: "Scouting Ireland has advised me that since last week there have been 80 phone calls to the confidential helpline from people identifying as victims."

Ms Zappone added: "I will get a verified update on the number of alleged victims and alleged perpetrators in mid-December."

She said that at the meeting she discussed the steps Scouting Ireland is taking to ensure that all alleged abuse victims who have already come forward are being properly supported and counselled.

She said they also talked about making sure that the same level of support will be made available to any further victims that may come forward.

Ms Zappone sought reassurance from the representatives that the historic review of abuse allegations is continuing and that all allegations found will be immediately referred to Tusla and the Gardaí .

The costs of maintaining the supports for victims was also discussed.

Ms Zappone said: "I have been reassured that Scouting Ireland is taking these shocking revelations very seriously."

Scouting Ireland set up the confidential freephone helpline for any other victims to make contact last Thursday.

The number is 1800 221199. 

A team is answering calls between 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has also put a confidential helpline in place, 1800 805665 and operates from 9am to 4pm. 

Ms Zappone said: "I would urge anybody who was abused while participating in Scouting activities or who wishes to name an alleged perpetrator of abuse to contact either of these helplines.”

Most of the 108 alleged abuse cases identified by a review of historical allegations date from the 1960s to 1980s.

Scouting Ireland said none of the alleged abusers are still working with the organisation and most of them are deceased.

Reports have been made to the Gardaí and Tusla in relation to alleged abusers.

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