SCOUTING Ireland has issued an "organisational apology" to the victims of sex abuse in scouting circles.
This morning, the chairman of Scouting Ireland, Adrian Tennant, issued the apology, saying: "As Chairperson of the Board of Scouting Ireland, as an adult volunteer and as a father, I wish to make an organisational apology to the victims and survivors of historical sexual abuse in Scouting who were failed."
He continued: "On behalf of Scouting Ireland, I unreservedly apologise to you. We are sorry for the hurt caused to you and the legacy of that hurt which many of you still live with today.
"We know we cannot take away that hurt. But we do want you to know that you have been heard. We want you to know that you are believed. We want you to know that we will support you.”
The apology comes as gardaí in Cork are preparing a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions following the arrest in February of an elderly man, following complaints of abuse in scouting circles in Cork, made by more than 20 men over a 30-year period.
In December 2018, Scouting Ireland revealed that it had been made aware of “212 known and alleged perpetrators and of 317 alleged victims, over the last 70 years" in scouting circles across the country.
This morning's apology accompanies a report on Scouting Ireland's handling of abuse allegations.
Safeguarding expert Ian Elliott compiled the report, Historical Sexual Abuse in Scouting: A Learning Review.
In his conclusion, Mr Elliott said: "Any objective examination of the evidence presented to this Review, would lead to the conclusion that scouting failed to protect vulnerable young people and allowed risky individuals to operate for too long a period.
"There was a reluctance to hold people to account and to recognize the reason why the organisation existed at all which is to serve the needs of young people in a positive way."
Mr Tennant said: "This Learning Review is a milestone in Scouting Ireland’s determination to search for the truth.
"It exposes past failings, particularly in our legacy organisations.
"It enables us to learn from an appalling backdrop of abuse which was ignored and unfortunately, in some cases, actively covered up."
He added: “We are determined that there is no place in Scouting for anyone who, by design or by omission, harms a child. Cronyism, looking away and covering up are not victimless crimes. They are enabling actions.
"We pledge to adopt and deliver the Learnings and Recommendations of this Report. It is a light pointing into a very dark corner but it is also a beacon for the standards, culture and structures we must have, and which must be resourced to ensure that Scouting is a safe place for young people”.
* The Scouting Ireland Helpline is open Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.00pm. Freephone 1800 221199 (ROI) and 00353 87 0934403 (NI).