The Minister for Children has said that both her own office and Scouting Ireland are being "flooded" with inquiries from adults who were abused as children.

The development comes after an Oireachtas committee was told yesterday that a full review of historical cases of allegations of abuse in Scouting Ireland found evidence of 71 alleged abusers and 108 victims between the 1960s and 1980s.

The discovery was made during a review carried out by child protection expert Ian Elliott.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Katherine Zappone said Scouting Ireland’s governing body had put in place a process for supporting victims, and that she was impressed by its draft policy statement for victims.

She said that the Oireachtas committee was told yesterday by both the chair of Scouting Ireland, Aisling Kelly, and by Mr Elliott, that the organisation was putting in place important support for victims as well as procedures to ensure that such abuse does not happen again.

Emphasising that victims need to be supported, Ms Zappone said Scouting Ireland had already put in place a process for doing that.

She said the association was "getting flooded with calls today", adding that she was being flooded with emails from adults who were abused when they were children.

The minister added that the Government and Scouting Ireland needed to find ways to ensure that the association's "priorities to heal now are put in place".

Scouting Ireland has told RTÉ News that being a voluntary organisation, it does not have the resources to pay redress to survivors of child abuse within the association.

However, it said it has ring-fenced funds to ensure that alleged victims receive counselling support.

Meanwhile the Garda Commissioner has said he believes that there will be multiple victims of sexual abuse in Scouting Ireland.

Speaking at a meeting of the Policing Authority at Dublin Castle, Drew Harris said he wanted to urge victims to come forward and assure them that their cases will be followed through on and fully investigated.

He also said he accepts that it can be difficult for victims to come forward, but he asked them to please do so.

Commissioner Harris said that the Protective Services bureau in An Garda Síochána has been working with the review team.

Earlier, the deputy leader of Fianna Fáil called on the Government to set up a special helpline for those affected by abuse allegations in Scouting Ireland.

Dara Calleary raised the matter during Leader's Questions in the Dáil today.

He also asked Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan what processes were being in put in place to allow people to come forward, who may not have come forward previously.

The minister said he was appalled by the allegations that emerged and was "extremely concerned" at the high numbers.

He said every support will be made available to ensure all victims can come forward, and are assisted in that pursuit.

Mr Flanagan said Ms Zappone has been told that none of the alleged abusers were still involved in scouting.

He also said reports had been made to Tusla, the gardaí and police forces in jurisdictions where the alleged abusers are now residing.

Additional reporting Paul Reynolds, Edel McAllister and Ian Mac Murchaidh


Scouting Ireland has launched a free phone helpline, it can be contacted on 1800 22 11 99. 

Tusla has also set up a helpline. The number - 1800 805 665 - is open every day from 9-4pm until next Friday 30 November.