Delay in publishing report into child sex abuse at St John Ambulance is an ‘insult’
18th December 2022
An independent report into historical child sex abuse allegations at St John Ambulance (SJA) is not expected to be published until the New Year, leaving victims “retraumatised”, according to one survivor.
Pressure is mounting on the voluntary paramedic organisation to publish the report, compiled by child protection expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon, which was submitted to its board over three weeks ago.
Dr Shannon, a former special rapporteur on child protection, carried out the principal work with a small team. He then submitted it to the SJA board.
The review was commissioned by the organisation after several men came forward alleging they were sexually abused as children by a senior figure in the organisation’s Old Kilmainham division in Dublin in the 1990s.
The report is understood to run to hundreds of pages.
When contacted, the voluntary paramedic organisation said it intends to publish the report following the relevant legal, insurance and data protection reviews. It said these checks are not expected to be completed until after Christmas.
Mick Finnegan (39), who first reported allegations of sexual abuse against a named perpetrator to gardaí and the organisation more than 20 years ago, said the delay in publication is “an insult to survivors”.
“It is simply not good enough that they have this report over three weeks and still haven’t published it. I think it’s a delaying tactic to minimise the reputational damage to the organisation.
“If they cared about survivors at all, they would have published it quickly. Survivors should have been given a copy of Dr Shannon’s review at the same time the review was presented to the board of St John Ambulance.”
Mr Finnegan said more than 35 other men who say they were sexually abused by the same volunteer have contacted him since he went public.
“St John Ambulance are undermining the integrity of Dr Geoffrey Shannon, one of the greatest legal minds in the country. He would have already done all the necessary legal checks.
“It is heartless that we will have to go through Christmas without seeing this report. Also, since St John Ambulance have had the report for this long, why haven’t they apologised to the survivors? This delay is retraumatising survivors.
“I do not have trust or faith in the organisation. They just care about their reputational damage and doing damage limitation. But for us, this is heartbreaking.”
After it received Dr Shannon’s report, which includes interviews of up to 100 people, SJA said it intended to publish it.
“SJAI’s board appreciates that many people are eager to review the findings of this report. As such, it intends to publish the full report for public consumption immediately after the relevant legal, insurance and data protection review has taken place,” it said in a statement.
“This necessary process will commence immediately, and the board is committed to ensuring it is as quick and efficient as possible.”
Tusla has investigated several complaints against the suspect in Mr Finnegan’s case, and determined the allegations to be founded.
An investigation by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau into another former volunteer for sexual abuse against a number of men is at an advanced stage.
The health of all children needs to be of real importance to us all — and not just concern over what other parents’ children might or will cost us as future criminals or costly cases of government care, etcetera — regardless of how well our own developing children are doing.
Along with their physical wellbeing, children’s sound psychological health should be the most significant aspect of a caregiver’s responsibility.
Perhaps foremost to consider is that during their first three to six years of life (depending on which expert one asks) children have particularly malleable minds, thus they’re exceptionally vulnerable to whatever rearing environment in which they happened to have been placed by often-enough-cruel fate.
A physically and mentally sound future is every child’s moral right — along with air, water, food and shelter — especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter.
Society needs to genuinely care about each other, especially with child-development health thus needs. And simply mindlessly ‘minding our own business’ too often proves humanly devastating.
“It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practicing medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.”
—Childhood Disrupted, pg.228