Scouting Ireland: the need for transparency

Parental trust is an indispensable element within any organisation that caters for children

The handling of a rape allegation in Scouting Ireland has been described as “deeply flawed” in an internal review conducted by Ian Elliott, who investigated child abuse cases within Catholic dioceses and religious orders. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The handling of a rape allegation in Scouting Ireland has been described as “deeply flawed” in an internal review conducted by Ian Elliott, who investigated child abuse cases within Catholic dioceses and religious orders. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The handling of a rape allegation involving a young female volunteer in Scouting Ireland has been described as “deeply flawed” in an internal review conducted by Ian Elliott, who investigated child abuse cases within Catholic dioceses and religious orders. This finding, along with criticism of a number of senior management volunteers, has convulsed the organisation, brought calls for resignations and a suggestion that Government funding should be withheld pending a review.

Parental trust is an indispensable element within any organisation that caters for children. Any lack of rigour in enforcing child protection protocols threatens disaster. In its favour, Scouting Ireland invited Mr Elliot to review and pronounce on its handling of a number of cases. But when his report criticised the actions of senior volunteers, it was rejected as an unwarranted attack; wagons were circled and the subsequent publication of details in The Irish Times was described as “a betrayal and a breach of trust”. Ireland has had a sad history with organisations such as the Catholic Church who have been too slow to accept the existence of problems within their ranks and who lost much hard-won trust in the process. Scouting Ireland should not make the same mistake

Large voluntary organisations tend to develop tensions specific to their structure. Tensions arise between paid executives and volunteers. Scouting Ireland is no different. Following a Garda investigation into the rape allegation that involved a fundamental disagreement on whether sex had been consensual, the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to press charges. This, along with threats of litigation by the accused, appeared to contribute to a succession of actions within Scouting Ireland that favoured the accused.

Serious questions arise about information-sharing at board level; the ability of management to implement agreed safeguarding policies and unorthodox lobbying on behalf of the accused. Efforts are now being made to prevent debate on these issues during tomorrow’s annual conference. Transparency and accountability are required.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.