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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 8 December, 2019

State funding for Scouting Ireland suspended after chief scout reinstated

Funding will be suspended as long as the current Board of Directors remains in place.

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MINISTER FOR CHILDREN and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has announced she is suspending state funding for Scouting Ireland. 

The announcement follows the board of Scouting Ireland’s decision to reinstate chief scout Christy McCann to head the organisation’s upcoming extraordinary general meeting. 

McCann is one of four volunteers under investigation over Scouting Ireland’s handling of a 2016 rape allegation. 

Scouting Ireland is one of the country’s largest youth organisations with 50,000 members. 

Speaking today, Zappone said that funding will be suspended for as long as the current Board of Directors remains in place. 

Funding worth €900,000 a year was suspended over the controversy. In June, the minister released an interim €220,000 for three months, following reform commitments.

But following the board’s decision to reinstate McCann, acting chair Annette Byrne said that she can no longer stand behind the current board. 

Four board members, including McCann, were criticised in a report by safeguarding expert Ian Elliott into the 2016 allegation. 

Zappone said today that “it is plainly wrong that any publicly funded youth organisation would be led by directors who do not put the interest and safety of young people to the fore”.

This is a crucial moment for Scouting Ireland. I urge the directors to do the right thing for the future of the organisation and for the future of scouting in this country.

The minister said today that she is considering a state representative to sit on the board of Scouting Ireland.

Acting chair Byrne said that there is a “clear majority” of Scouting Ireland members who want change.

“We’re a safe organisation. The issues that we have are on governance.”

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