Recent reports have indicated that Scouting Ireland was aware, as far back as 2018, that it could face financial ruin due to compensation claims linked to the sexual abuses cases that were detailed in the publication of a report last month.
Aisling Kelly, who was chair of Scouting Ireland board on December 10 2018 informed a room of senior volunteers that there was a chance that legal actions submitted against the organisation linked to “extensive, prolonged, and at times organised child sexual abuse”. In addition to this she said that such legal actions could “sink the organisation” if large numbers of abuse victims sought compensation from Scouting Ireland.
She based this claims on the likelihood of huge compensation settlements in other countries that were linked to child abuse in scouting organisations.
It has recently been revealed that Scouting Ireland has set aside a fund of €2.5 million to cover the costs of legal claims and cases from abuse survivors. This comes in the aftermath of a report being published in which child protection expert Ian Elliott revealed the outcomes and recommendations following the review he was commissioned to complete by Scouting Ireland. It brought to public attention the extent of the historic abuse at the scouting groups and described how the act to protect the interests of the young members.
In addition to the publication of the report, Scouting Ireland released a public apology to the victims. Scouting Ireland ChairAdrian Tennant claimed that since learning of the abuse scandal Scouting Ireland had attempted to “own” responsibility for facing up to the past failings.
The report made reference to the culture of the scouting groups in Ireland showed widespread “cronyism” and a lack of appropriate governance. This, it claimed, resulted in instances of child abuse not being reported to the proper bodies. Scouting Ireland was labelled a “seriously dysfunctional organisation”, with “sex offenders dominating the leadership for decades”. The report said that there was a “systematic failure” of the organisations to maintain appropriate records of reports of alleged child abuse allegations.
There are also reports that the Government is now reviewing the situation to see if a statutory inquiry into the past abuse is required.