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'Deep-rooted culture of mistrust': Scouting Ireland board to step down over handling of rape allegation

The government will, however, restore funding for three months.

Image: Shutterstock/ChiccoDodiFC

THE BOARD OF directors of Scouting Ireland is to resign and a new board is to be elected after a damning report about the handling of a rape allegation.

A report carried out by child safety expert Ian Elliott raised serious concerns about Scouting Ireland’s handling of the rape allegation. The alleged assault took place in 2009 but was only reported within the organisation in 2016.

The findings of the report were first reported by the Irish Times and it emerged that the accused person was reinstated in the organisation without undergoing further garda vetting.

After the controversy was made public, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone appointed Jillian Van Turnout to conduct an independent review of governance issues at Scouting Ireland.

Her review, published today, revealed a perception within the organisation that there is no clear process for assessing and handling complaints.

Van Turnout was repeatedly told “members do not trust the system” and that members felt people were treated differently depending on their status.

She also identified a “deep-rooted culture of mistrust between the board and staff” and was told voices around the board table were treated differently, “most obviously female or youth voices”.

Scouting Ireland has now agreed to implement the recommendations of this report which include the resignation of the full board of directors.

This morning Minister Zappone confirmed she will restore funding to Scouting Ireland for three months. Her department made a decision to withhold funding back in April until it was satisfied governance standards met the required level.

The minister said there are a number of recommendations that must be implemented before full restoration of funding can be considered.

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Scouting Ireland has said significant progress has already been made in implementing a number of the recommendations and in particular recommendations on safeguarding.

“On receipt of a further progress report in September 2018 I will be in a position to consider if Scouting Ireland has achieved the strong governance standards required of organisations in receipt of public funding, which would allow for the full restoration of funding to Scouting Ireland,” the minister said.

“I appreciate the valuable work which Scouting Ireland carries out with thousands of young people and I hope that the necessary changes are made which will strengthen the organisation for those young people, the volunteers and the staff.”

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