Statement from Scouting Ireland: ‘There are learnings for the organisation’
‘The safety and protection of all our members and volunteers is of paramount importance’
Scouts assemble at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, Dublin. File photograph: Aidan Crawley
An initial disclosure was made in 2015 to Scouting Ireland against an adult volunteer by a fellow adult volunteer relating to an incident in 2009.
The organisation took immediate action, implementing our safeguarding procedures. We advised the volunteer to make a formal complaint to the Garda without further delay and supported them over a period of months to help them do this. We also provided counselling and support to the volunteer, who remains a valued member of Scouting Ireland.
Scouting Ireland co-operated fully with the Garda investigation.
In accordance with our procedures, the volunteer against whom allegations were made was asked to voluntarily abstain from scouting activity while the matter was being investigated by the Garda.
Subsequently the volunteer in question was formally suspended. The DPP directed no prosecution, following which the National Management Committee decided to lift the suspension and they returned to scouting activities.
As is best practice, we continuously review and update our procedures. These reviews are conducted both internally and by external experts. As part of this continuous process, Scouting Ireland retained a recognised expert to review our safeguarding procedures in June last year. As part of this review we requested a case review of our handling of this complaint. We are grateful for the very comprehensive review undertaken and the substantive report produced.
The safety and protection of all our members and volunteers is of paramount importance to us. Safeguarding procedures were implemented in Scouting Ireland before it was legally required, and we are committed to informed compliance with best practices and our statutory obligations. We have very strong procedures which are entirely in line with best practices as required by Children’s First legislation, and we have statutory reporting, responsibility to Tusla and the Garda as appropriate. These obligations are strictly observed. We do not tolerate any interference with these procedures, no matter how slight or well-intentioned that interference might be perceived to be.
Having given extensive and careful consideration to the findings in this report, the National Management Committee of Scouting Ireland recognised that there are learnings for the organisation, and the adoption of the report’s recommendations are being implemented as an absolute priority.
In addition to implementing the report’s recommendations, the National Management Committee immediately ordered an independent investigation to ensure the complaint made in 2015 was handled in full compliance with our safeguarding procedures. This is being conducted by an independent external investigator and, to ensure due process, we will not be making further comment on it.