Scouting Ireland tells members insurers challenge liability for abuse settlements – The Irish Times

Scouting Ireland’s insurers have challenged aspects of its liability to cover the cost of settlements awarded to survivors of historical child sexual abuse at legacy Scouting bodies.

The youth organization is facing legal action against more than 40 survivors who were allegedly sexually abused as children by Scout leaders.

Scouting Ireland and its insurers, Allianz, are about to start arbitration proceedings over the disputed extent to which its insurance policies cover ongoing legal cases brought by survivors of abuse.

More than 350 people are believed to have been sexually abused as children within the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) and the Scout Association of Ireland (SAI), which merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004.

An independent review has identified more than 275 alleged perpetrators charged with child molestation, with most of the alleged abuse taking place between the 1960s and 1990s.

Pat Kidney, chairman of the organization’s board, said Scouting Ireland and its predecessors had always maintained adequate insurance cover, but this was disputed by Allianz.

In a statement to members after the organization’s annual general meeting on Saturday, Mr Kidney said the board had spent “considerable time and effort to ensure the value we believe these insurance policies bring”.

An independent arbitrator would be appointed to “decide the issues in dispute”, he said. “The process will consider evidence from both parties and will likely take several months,” he added.

A senior Scouting Ireland source said that while there are clear insurance cover records for CBSI, the records for the other former Scouting body, SAI, were poor.

“We know that some survivors are seeking redress in court, and we recognize that this is a difficult time for anyone taking action against Scouting Ireland,” Mr Kidney said.

The arbitration process was crucial to the organization’s “future ability to support those who have failed in Scouting in the past and to provide services to young people today”, he said.

“We recognize the bravery of those who have come forward and we believe their stories, and how they failed in Scouting… We want to fulfill our duties to all of our members – past, present and future,” he said. declared. The organization remains committed to offering support, such as counseling, to survivors, he added.

Scouting Ireland has set aside a liability in its own financial accounts of over €6 million to cover the costs of survivors’ legal claims.

The historic child sex abuse scandal first emerged in 2018, after a growing number of survivors began contacting Scouting Ireland to disclose past abuse, following articles in The Irish Times about the safeguard and governance controversies facing the current organization.

An independent report by child protection expert Ian Elliott, published in 2020, found that past sexual abuse had been tolerated at the highest levels of former Scouting organisations. The abuses were also covered up for decades to protect the reputation of the Scouting movement, he said.

Scouting Ireland has been criticized by lawyers representing alleged survivors, who have claimed its legal approach to date has been to vigorously defend cases. The organization said it could not comment on cases before the courts.