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Eighty people call Scouting Ireland sex abuse helpline

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Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Collins

Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Collins

Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Collins

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

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone revealed the figure last night after meeting 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 of alleged abuse victims could grow substantially.

Counselled

Ms Zappone said she met representatives of the organisation to discuss her concerns about the revelations, which emerged last week.

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

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

At the meeting, she discussed the steps Scouting Ireland was taking to ensure that all alleged abuse victims were being properly supported and counselled.

She sought reassurances that the historic review of abuse allegations was continuing and that all allegations would be immediately referred to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and gardai.

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

Scouting Ireland set up the confidential freephone helpline last Thursday.

The number is 1800 221199, and a team is answering calls between 9am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.

Tusla also has a confidential helpline, on 1800 805665, which operates from 9am to 4pm.

"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," Ms Zappone said.

Most of the alleged abuse cases date from the 1960s to 1980s.

Scouting Ireland said none of the alleged abusers were still working with it and most had died. Information has been passed to gardai and Tusla.


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