Scouting Ireland report difficulty recruiting safeguarding manager

Chief executive John Lawlor: “no suitable applicants” responded to advertisement

The organisation said there has been “little interest” in the position of full-time safeguarding manager in a recent statement

The organisation said there has been “little interest” in the position of full-time safeguarding manager in a recent statement

 

Scouting Ireland has delayed recruiting a full-time safeguarding manager to oversee child protection due to funding difficulties following a controversy over the mishandling of a rape claim.

Child protection expert Ian Elliott has been contracted as an interim safeguarding manager for the youth organisation in recent months.

In April, the organisation advertised for a safeguarding officer to oversee their child protection structures. However, there was “little interest” in the position, according to a recent management bulletin sent to members. Recruitment for the role has now been suspended until funding concerns have been resolved.

“Uncertainty around funding from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has had a significant impact on our ability to recruit,” the management updated outlined.

In a statement, chief executive John Lawlor said “no suitable applicants” responded to the job advertisement, and the organisation was “continuing the search process for an appropriately qualified candidate”.

Late last month, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone suspended State funding worth about €900,000 to the organisation, after the board voted for chief scout Christy McCann to chair a recent extraordinary general meeting.

Ms Zappone said State grants would be withheld until the board was replaced.

Mr McCann, one of four senior volunteers under investigation over the organisation’s handling of a rape allegation, stepped aside in April pending the findings of an ongoing barrister-led inquiry.

Funding had been suspended by Ms Zappone over the controversy in April, but three months of interim grants were released following reform commitments in June.

Deeply flawed

In January a confidential report by Mr Elliott found the handling of an allegation in 2016, from a woman who claimed she was raped on a 2009 camping trip when she was 18-years-old, was “deeply flawed”.

Mr Elliott also recommended improvements in the organisation’s overall safeguarding structures. This included replacing their current single child protection officer, with a safeguarding manager overseeing three to four case officers. Last Saturday the board stepped down and a new board of 10 directors was elected at the extraordinary general meeting in the Helix theatre in Dublin City University. Mr McCann did not chair the meeting.

Ms Zappone is expected to make a decision on the restoration of the organisation’s State funding in the coming weeks.

As of August the organisation had about €2 million in funds, but much of this has been ring-fenced to repay a €1 million loan taken to refurbish its head office in Larch Hill, if it is called in.

Reserves are also needed to cover potential redundancies for 34 staff. The organisation was on the verge of placing staff on protective notice in June, before the funding was temporarily restored.

The voluntary organisation has also had difficulty filing vacancies for support staff to serve the Dublin and western scout provinces. Scouting Ireland has suspended recruitment for these posts until the funding situation is clarified.

Some key personnel have left the organisation in recent months, including the longtime operations manager, who has been replaced.