Chief scout and two others expelled from Scouting Ireland

Youth organisation board expels senior figures following long disciplinary process

Scouting Ireland’s board took the decision to expel chief scout Christy McCann (pictured) and two senior officials. Photograph: Scouting Ireland Facebook page

Scouting Ireland’s board took the decision to expel chief scout Christy McCann (pictured) and two senior officials. Photograph: Scouting Ireland Facebook page

 

Scouting Ireland’s board has expelled the chief scout and two senior figures, who were at the centre of a controversy over governance and safeguarding standards, from the organisation.

The board took the decision to expel chief scout Christy McCann, chief commissioner David Shalloo, and former board member Ollie Kehoe from membership, citing evidence of misconduct.

A fourth senior officer, chief commissioner Thérèse Bermingham, was suspended for two years from holding any position outside her local scout group.

The decision was taken by the board on January 10th, following a three-year disciplinary process. The four were given three weeks to respond, and the decision was finalised last week.

In a statement to members on Monday, Scouting Ireland said the board had made findings of misconduct against the four senior volunteers under the organisation’s disciplinary process.

In early 2018, The Irish Times reported a confidential review had found the four senior figures’ handling of a rape allegation, concerning two adult volunteers, had been “deeply flawed”.

State funding

The four officials stepped aside in April 2018 as the controversy facing the organisation deepened, with the then minister for children, Katherine Zappone, suspending its State funding.

A subsequent independent investigation by barrister Lorna Lynch, completed in early 2019, concluded the four had acted inappropriately in handling the allegation.

A subcommittee set up to deal with the findings in late 2019 decided to suspend Mr McCann, Mr Shalloo and Ms Bermingham. Mr Kehoe had already been replaced when the previous entire board resigned, amid a governance overhaul.

The suspensions were upheld last year following a further protracted appeal process.

In a message to members, Scouting Ireland board chairman Adrian Tennant said the board had considered “all correspondence and mitigation” from the four ahead of its final decision, he said. “This brings to a close a long and difficult matter for Scouting Ireland, for all those concerned,” he said.

Saying she was “absolutely astounded” by the misconduct accusations, Ms Bermingham said “the whole matter” has “been the cause of serious personal distress and leaves me deeply saddened by the actions of some fellow scouts”.

The “poor treatment of volunteers” would discourage others from seeking senior roles, she said.

Referring to the description of the complaint as rape, she said “the only time that term was ever used” was in “an early, inaccurate, draft of Mr Ian Elliot’s safeguarding report”.

An allegation, she said, was made in December 2015 to Scouting Ireland by an adult scout that she had been indecently assaulted by another adult scout at a scouting event in summer 2009.

Mr McCann, Mr Shalloo and Mr Kehoe were also contacted for comment.