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Number of cases set to rise as victims speak out, charity says


One in Four’s Maeve Lewis

One in Four’s Maeve Lewis

One in Four’s Maeve Lewis

The number of abuse cases linked to Scouting Ireland is expected to rise considerably in the next few weeks, according to the sexual abuse charity One in Four.

Following a damning review into the scouting federation, One in Four said it was "very distressing" that such a high number of sexual offenders were able to gain access children in an organisation "trusted by generations of parents".

The charity now expects more victims to speak out.

"We've been contacted by numerous alleged victims of abuse, who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a member of Scouting Ireland," said Deirdre Kenny, advocacy director for the charity.

"While the numbers outlined in the review are certainly shocking, it is likely that more people will start to come forward in the weeks ahead.

"When abuse is acknowledged publicly it can often help diminish the fear of not being believed. With any revelation like this, more victims of childhood abuse feel safer and more comfortable speaking out."


Maeve Lewis, executive director of One in Four, said the number of cases might rise as the review continues.

"While most of the allegations relate to the period between the 1960s and 1980s, there are certainly more recent incidents as well.

"It is very distressing to think that such a high number of sex offenders were able to gain access to children through an organisation that had been trusted by generations of parents," she said.

"It highlights the need for rigorous child safeguarding practices and garda vetting to be put in place in every environment where children congregate."

While the numbers were "astonishing", they reflected the statistic that one in four Irish children had been sexually harmed, usually by a trusted adult, she said.

Ms Lewis was speaking after Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan announced a major new study into sexual abuse.

"This is vital if we are to know if the legislative and policy changes in the past decade are having an impact in keeping children safe," she said. "I would urge anybody who has been affected by this scandal to reach out for help."

Attempts were made to contact Scouting Ireland for comment.