Gardaí expecting more scouting abuse reports in the coming weeks

Gardaí expecting more scouting abuse reports in the coming weeks

GARDAÍ are expecting more formal complaints to be made about abuse in scouting circles in Cork in the coming weeks.

It is understood that a number of people living abroad have made contact with gardaí with a view to making official complaints alleging abuse in Cork in past decades, during scouting activities.

One man was arrested and questioned in recent weeks on foot of a complaint received from a former scout member.

He was released without charge and a file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In another case, a file has been sent to Tusla in relation to allegations of abuse against another Corkman, by a different person.

On Tuesday, Scouting Ireland revealed that the organisation now knows of 212 alleged perpetrators and of 317 alleged victims, over the last 70 years.

The majority of allegations relate to the period between the 1960s and the 1990s.

Cork East TD Sean Sherlock, Labour’s spokesman on children and youth affairs, has called for a coordinated response by Minister Katherine Zappone to the revelations of abuse within Scouting Ireland.

Deputy Sherlock said: “People want reassurances that files have been referred to gardaí and Tusla. It is a matter of public importance that we also know if there are allegations against current members of Scouting Ireland or are the files all historical?”

Meanwhile, Scouting Ireland has written to all its members, asking them to refrain from commenting on social media about the abuse controversy. In the letter, the organisation’s board told scouts that the organisation will not be engaging on social media.

The letter continued: “As with face-to-face interactions we must be careful with our language. What we say matters. How we say it can be calming or inflammatory. Every time one of us comments on social media, we make a choice to either be a calming influence or one which adds fuel to a fire. Please realise that many of our colleagues and friends in Scouting are under enormous strain.”

The letter added: “Free speech and even a reasonable expectation of transparency does not absolve us of our responsibilities to care for each other. We must be mindful not to impinge on a fellow volunteer or staff member’s constitutional and legal rights. Ultimately the board may have no option but to address certain behaviours that are not appropriate or worthy of our Scout values, or that do damage to the organisation or its members.”

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