Scouting Ireland board to resign amid rape claim controversy

Fifteen directors to step down in governance overhaul after ‘flawed’ handling of allegation

Scouting Ireland: members of the youth organisation were told the board of 15 directors “have confirmed their decision to resign effective October 31st”. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Scouting Ireland: members of the youth organisation were told the board of 15 directors “have confirmed their decision to resign effective October 31st”. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The entire board of Scouting Ireland is expected to stand down to be replaced in October as part of a major governance overhaul.

The organisation is in the middle of a controversy over their handling of a rape allegation made in 2016, concerning two adult leaders following an incident in 2009. Last January, a confidential review by safeguarding expert Ian Elliott found the handling of the allegation was “deeply flawed”.

In April, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone suspended State funding to the organisation, following reports in The Irish Times detailing Mr Elliott’s findings.

On Sunday, members of the youth organisation were told the current board of 15 directors “have confirmed their decision to resign effective October 31st”.

The decision is part of a major reform of the organisation’s governance structures, accelerated in the wake of the current controversy.

Proposed reforms

Members will vote on adopting proposed reforms at an extraordinary general meeting in Dublin on Saturday. The proposals include changes to how their board is made up, such as introducing external directors. Elections will be held at a second egm in October, to replace the current board.

A statement to members from interim board chair Annette Byrne and national secretary Charles McGuinness said the organisation “will not survive” if the reforms are rejected.

Passing the governance changes was an “important step” to address Ms Zappone’s concerns, and restore State grants worth €438,169 currently withheld, members were told. The organisation estimates it will run out of funding by early August, if State funding is not restored.

Four senior board members who were criticised in Mr Elliott’s report resigned in April.