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Scouting Ireland CEO pulls out of appearance before government committee as fallout from rape allegation continues

It emerged last weekend that a scout leader accused of a sexual assault remains under investigation by gardaí and the DPP.

Capture File photo Source: Shutterstock

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of Scouting Ireland has pulled out of an appearance before the Oireachtas Children’s Committee after further revelations emerged regarding the group last weekend.

Dr John Lawlor had been due to appear before the committee tomorrow at 9am.

In a letter yesterday, addressed to the committee, Lawlor apologised but said that given the latest news to emerge he would not be in a position to appear at present.

Those revelations concerned the fact that a scout leader, who had previously been investigated by child and family agency Tusla in relation to an alleged sexual assault at a scouting trip in Dublin in 2014, remains under investigation by An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The man in question had rejoined Scouting Ireland after Tusla ruled that the allegation against him was ‘unfounded’.

Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the matter is underway at Scouting Ireland.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Fine Gael TD and chair of the committee Alan Farrell said he was “disappointed” by Lawlor’s decision.

“I am disappointed by the decision, but hopefully once that investigation is completed they will come before us again,” he said.

‘Perplexed’

Fellow committee member Labour’s Sean Sherlock described scouting volunteers as being “perplexed” by the pullout.

“It suggests there is more to this than meets the eye,” he said.

We need absolute transparency here.

Farrell meanwhile added that Scouting Ireland had initially volunteered to appear before the committee “at a very early stage”.

“It was only when the latest issues arose that they chose to await the outcome of that investigation.”

Farrell said that “these matters are of great concern to the children’s committee”.

There are 40,000 children nationwide using scouting facilities. I’m hopeful that once the investigation is completed Scouting Ireland will present themselves, not just to discuss their child protection measures and management structure, but to reassure the public. I want to be in a position to reassure parents that standards are of the highest order in Scouting Ireland.

A spokesman for Scouting Ireland said that it had not further comment to make on the matter, but added that “we are willing and preparing to appear before the Oireachtas once our internal investigation has been completed”.

Last week, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone froze Scouting Ireland’s state funding on the back of the governance concerns raised by the ongoing issues being raised.

On Thursday last, the organisation’s chief scout Christy McCann stepped aside pending the outcome of the Scouting Ireland internal investigation.

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