Papal visit organiser to become Scouting Ireland chief executive

Youth organisation has been embroiled in a a historic sex abuse scandal in recent times

Anne Griffin is to take over as chief executive of Scouting Ireland  from Dr John Lawlor in January. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd/The Irish Times.

Anne Griffin is to take over as chief executive of Scouting Ireland from Dr John Lawlor in January. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd/The Irish Times.

 

A woman involved in the management of last year’s papal visit to Ireland is to become the chief executive of Scouting Ireland.

Anne Griffin is to take over as head of the youth organisation from Dr John Lawlor in January, and will be the first woman to hold the role in the organisation’s history.

Ms Griffin was the general manager of the World Meeting of Families, a major religious gathering which saw Pope Francis deliver a Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in August of last year.

She was also the general manager of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, another major international Catholic Church event, which was held in Dublin in 2012.

She was also employed as a consultant advise on the running of the 2015 and 2020 congresses.

Dr Lawlor has been chief executive of Scouting Ireland since 2012, and previously held several national volunteer roles in the youth organisation, which has more than 50,000 members.

Scouting Ireland has been at the centre of controversy over the last two years, following several governance and child protection scandals which were revealed by The Irish Times.

Scandal

The youth organisation is facing a major historical child sex abuse scandal after an internal review last year identified more than 300 alleged victims. The abuse primarily occurred between the 1960s and 1990s in organisations which later merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004.

The cost of potential legal cases taken by survivors is likely to be a major issue for the organisation in the coming years.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, earlier this year raised concerns about safeguarding standards in Scouting Ireland due to the handling of several youth-on-youth abuse cases. Scouting Ireland has firmly defended its current safeguarding practices.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone will next month decide on whether to renew State funding to the organisation. The decison will be based on a progress report on promised reforms, due to be submitted to her department at the end of this month.

Commenting on Ms Griffin’s appointment, the chair of Scouting Ireland’s board Adrian Tennant said she would “see our organisation continue to grow and evolve on an all-island basis”.

He said Ms Griffin had experience managing large numbers of volunteers, business strategy, risk management and charities legislation.

In a statement, Ms Griffin said “as chief executive I will support the growth of Scouting Ireland and the development of young people in a safe, professional and fun environment.

“I believe that the work done by Scouting Ireland with young people truly matters and has a positive impact on them and our communities,” she said.