Mick Finnegan, Paul Mulholland and Martin Hoey met then Fianna Fáil’s spokeswoman for children, Anne Rabbitte in 2019 and briefed her on the sexual abuse they allegedly suffered as children in St John Ambulance.
Deputy Rabbitte privately raised concerns with then-minister for children Katherine Zappone who wrote to Bernard Gloster, then CEO Tusla.
Gloster, in a letter dated December 5th, 2019 to Deputy Rabbittee stated: ‘All available information suggests that there is no evidence of systemic or organisational abuse within St John Ambulance.’
St John Ambulance waited until the eve of the bank holiday weekend when Roderic O’Gorman and the Cabinet was out of the country to publish the damming 300 page report on the independent investigation by Dr Geoffrey Shannon SC commissioned in 2020 when Finnegan, Mulholland and Hoey went public with their stories in the Irish Times.
Mick Finnegan is demanding Tusla to answer questions as to how the charity was given a clean bill of health, given the scale of abuse detailed by survivors and confirmed in Dr Shannon’s report.
In a statement to RTÉ’s Prime Time, Tusla said that ‘at the time of the correspondence… Tusla had no information that there was any child currently at risk within St John Ambulance Service’.
Mick Finnegan has called on Bernard Gloster, recently appointed as head of the HSE to provide a direct explanation as to how he came to conclude that child abuse was not widespread in the organisation.
Mr Finnegan told today’s Mail on Sunday: ‘I will be following up with Tusla to find out details of the investigation they carried out, that enabled them to give St John Ambulance a clean bill of health. There are huge question marks over that. I think it’s important to see their process into how they look into issues relating to child protection.”
Mr Finnegan went on to say: ‘As the Special Rapporteur for Child Protection pointed out, it is a case of the organisation being able to mark their own homework and say, “everything’s okay here”, or did they carry out something more in-depth? We need to address all these issues because if we don’t, we will see history repeating itself.’
Bernard Gloster did not respond to requests from the MoS for comment.
Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman, who was in India as part of the global St Patrick’s weekend mission, did not respond to requests for comment either.