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Mr Elliott moved to reassure parents that Scouting Ireland "has very robust policies and procedures in place with regards to safeguarding, particularly in relation to overnight trips and camping." Pic: RTÉ
Mr Elliott moved to reassure parents that Scouting Ireland "has very robust policies and procedures in place with regards to safeguarding, particularly in relation to overnight trips and camping." Pic: RTÉ
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Child protection expert "baffled" by Tusla overnight scout trip comments

Ann Murphy ONE of the most respected child protection experts in the country has said he is baffled by Tusla's suggestion that Souting Ireland overnight trips be halted.

Ian Elliott, who headed up the probe into child abuse in the Cloyne diocese, has been engaged as an independent child safety consultant with Scouting Ireland.

He told the Evening Echo that he chaired a meeting on Monday at which representatives of Tusla and An Garda Siochana told him that neither agency raised any concerns about safeguardng procedures in Scouting Ireland.

He said: "I was reassured by both agencies that they were content and had no problem."

He added that he is now "baffled" by the contents of a letter from Tusla, which was published yesterday by the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone.

And he said: "We need Tusla to explain why they are saying this. I do not understand why the comments that have been made, have been made."

Mr Elliott moved to reassure parents that Scouting Ireland "has very robust policies and procedures in place with regards to safeguarding, particularly in relation to overnight trips and camping."

However, the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon, said that Scouting Ireland needs to work with Tusla to address the agency's concerns.

Speaking on RTÉ News at 1, Mr Shannon said that the issues highlighted in the Tusla letter relate to current and live cases. And he said another highlighted issue was how disclosures (of abuse) are handled by Scouting Ireland.

Maeve Lewis of One in 4 said she had concerns that Scouting Ireland were running their own helpline for sufferers of abuse in scouting circles.

The latest development comes as gardaí in Cork have interviewed at least six former scouts who allege they were abused in scouting circles.

In December, Scouting Ireland revealed that the organisation now knows "of 212 known and alleged perpetrators and of 317 alleged victims, over the last 70 years".

However, garda sources said this figure could increase as more people become more brave about coming forward.

Late last year, one man was arrested and questioned in Cork on foot of a complaint received from one former scout member. He was released without charge. And a file has been sent to Tusla in relation to allegations of abuse against another Corkman, by a different person.