I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to speak on this important matter. As the Minister, Deputy O'Gorman, may recall, it is not the first time I have raised this particular issue and the concerns I have around St. John Ambulance Ireland in the Dáil.
Most people will be familiar with the positive image this organisation aims to promote. When we see them at a wide range of sporting events, including GAA, soccer and rugby games in the RDS and at various community events, it is important to remember that the organisation gets funding from the State, albeit indirectly through the national governing bodies.
However, the dark and deeply disturbing actions of some of its personnel during the 1990s seldom gets the coverage it should. One journalist, Mr. Jack Power, has done a great deal of strong work in bringing this particular issue to the fore.
The child and adult sexual abuse carried out over a number of years by senior members of St. John Ambulance Ireland is deeply disturbing. I commend the bravery of three survivors, Mr. Mick Finnegan, Mr. Paul Mulholland and Mr. Martin Hoey, who have spoken out publicly of the horrific sexual abuse they experienced when they were members of the organisation. Mr. Finnegan was only a young cadet when the abuse started. Some of his testimony is harrowing. It is distressing.
Previously, in this Chamber I have raised my deep concern that the organisation is closing ranks to protect rapists and sexual abusers who may or may not still be active members of St. John Ambulance Ireland. Now, once again, I am here raising my deeply-held concerns that St. John Ambulance Ireland is, once again, closing ranks.
Survivors of that horrific abuse are deeply concerned that the review by Dr. Shannon will not be made public and will not be shared with survivors. If this is the case, it would be an absolute disgrace. It would be an insult to the bravery of the people and survivors who have come forward with their horrific abuse stories. It will be highlighted in Dr. Shannon's report and his review.
It is not easy for survivors to come forward and to have to give a detailed account of the horrors of sexual abuse. It takes great bravery and commitment and a sense of justice to step forward.
I ask the Minister directly to liaise with Dr. Shannon and with St. John Ambulance Ireland to ensure that the review is made available to the public, and particularly to the survivors of this sexual abuse. We need to see organisations such as St. John Ambulance Ireland using the review as a learning tool to ensure best practice when it comes to child protection.
I certainly commend the Minister for the work he has done for and the support he has provided to survivors. It does not sit well with me to know that State funds, via national governing bodies, NGBs, of sporting organisations, are ending up in an organisation that has closed ranks in the face of a review into sex abuse and now, possibly, will prevent the publication of this report.
Week in, week out St. John Ambulance Ireland continues to provide a service for various sporting and national governing bodies and communities. We need to see the Government standing firm and ensuring that St. John Ambulance Ireland is not allowed to hide anything here.