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Scouting Ireland Fear Legal Compensation Claims due to Child Abuse as early as 2018

It has been reported that the Scouting Ireland organisation, which was rocked last week with the publication of a damning report that revealed a systematic failure to prevent child abuse and protect its members, was informed in 2018 that there was a strong possibility that the group would face financial ruin due to related compensation claims.

Former board chair of Scouting Ireland, Aisling Kelly, was speaking to a room of senior volunteers from the group on December 10th, 2018, when she informed them that there was a chance that legal actions submitted against the organisation linked to “extensive, prolonged, and at times organised child sexual abuse”. She went on to say that such legal actions could “sink the organisation” if large numbers of abuse victims sought compensation from Scouting Ireland.

Her fears were based on the massive compensation settlements, in other jurisdictions, in relation to child abuse and scouting organisations. As recently as February 2020, the Boys Scouts of America declared bankruptcy following a number of legal actions related to law for alleged child abuse. It was also reported in The Irish Times Scouting Ireland recently agreed a compensation settlement of more than €100,000 for a man who alleged he was sexually abused when he was a member of the CBSI as a young boy. Scouting Ireland has set aside a fund of €2.5 million to cover the costs of legal claims and cases from survivors.

This comes following the publication of a report last week in which child protection expert Ian Elliott revealed the outcomes and recommendations following the review he was commissioned to complete by Scouting Ireland. It unveiled the extent of the historic abuse at the scouting groups and described how the act failed to act in the interests of the young members.

Along with the release of the report, Scouting Ireland issued 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 described the culture of the scouting groups in Ireland showed widespread “cronyism” and a lack of adequate governance. This, it claimed, led to cases of child abuse not being reported to the proper authorities. 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.

It has been reported that the Government is now investigating if a a statutory inquiry into the past abuse needs to be conducted.