Scouting Ireland board to resign after criticism over handling of rape allegation in 2016

The Scouting Ireland board is to resign in support of new governance structures at the organisation, and following criticism of the body's handling of a rape allegation in 2016.

The move paves the way for government funding to be restored to the organisation for a three month trial period.

There have been questions over Scouting Ireland's handling of an alleged sexual assault with an internal report finding their response deeply flawed.

It is reported that in 2016, a female leader made an allegation of rape during a camping trip which took place seven years earlier.

Ms Zappone was quoted as saying she was "very concerned" with how the organisation handled the allegation.

The DPP decided not to proceed with a prosecution and the alleged offender was promoted some months later.

Scouting Ireland has more than 40,000 juvenile members, and since 2010 has received €9m in funding from the department.

Their funding was suspended in April, but Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has reinstated it as of today.

She says it is after the board of Scouting Ireland accepted an independent review and committed to a number of reforms.

Minister Zappone also welcomed the decision of the board of Scouting Ireland to stand down in October.

"I appreciate their willingness to do that and I think that was an integral aspect of the recommendations.

"I think that shows a demonstration and a commitment to the overall organisation."

There are recommendations under the review that cover areas like safeguarding, management and government of the organisation.

The progress Scouting Ireland is making will be reviewed in three months and a decision on whether to keep funding the organisation will be made then.

In a statement, Scouting Ireland welcomed the restoration of funding and said they fully accepted the report.

Scouting Ireland statement in full:

Scouting Ireland welcomes the decision of Minister Zappone to restore funding to the organisation for three months which will allow us to continue to function as a national organisation supporting young people throughout Ireland.

We fully accept the Report by Jillian van Turnhout on Governance within Scouting Ireland and are committed to acting on the 13 recommendations made in her report.

Safeguarding is a top priority for our organisation and five of the six recommendations on safeguarding have already been completed or are in progress.

We accept that a new model of corporate governance is needed at a national level to support the future of Scouting in Ireland. The recommendations on the management and governance of Scouting Ireland are being addressed by our ongoing governance project which over a four year period saw an extensive body of work undertaken to develop new governance structures appropriate to an organisation of our size.

Members will vote on new governance and board structures at our EGM later this week. In advance of the EGM, the current Board will resign with effect from 31 October. The Board took this decision to demonstrate their endorsement of the new governance structures to members of Scouting Ireland and to allow a new board to continue the valuable progress already made on these recommendations, including in relation to Charities Legislation.

The Board is fully supportive of both the continuing work of Ian Elliott on safeguarding and for the new governance structures on which members are being asked to vote.Scouting Ireland apologises to our members and to the public who have been let down by the shortcomings in our organisation. Every day throughout Ireland thousands of young people partake in scouting activities that are led by dedicated adult leaders who give freely of their time for the benefit of our young people. We are focused on implementing, as quickly as possible the structures that will ensure Scouting Ireland is a safe place for all and that will sustain the development of Scouting Ireland into the future.

Scouting Ireland will provide a progress report on our implementation of the recommendations to the Minister in September 2018. We will continue to work with the Minister's officials in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs so that the Minister can have confidence that Scouting Ireland has the strong governance standards required of organisations in receipt of public funding.

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