More to scouting scandal,say TDs

Politicians across the political divide have claimed there is “more than meets the eye” to the growing Scouting Ireland scandal after the head of the group refused to answer questions at a public Dáil meeting tomorrow.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and Labour TDs said they are growing increasingly concerned about issues surrounding the group after Scouting Ireland chief executive John Lawlor formally rejected an invitation to appear before the children’s committee.

In a letter to the committee yesterday, Mr Lawlor said that due to an ongoing internal investigation led by an independent barrister, he would be unable to attend the public committee meeting tomorrow as planned.

Mr Lawlor said he would be willing to attend a question and answer session with TDs after the internal investigation concludes at the end of May, and offered to meet with committee chair and Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell in private tomorrow morning.

Mr Farrell confirmed last night he has agreed to the private meeting request, and will meet with committee colleagues later today to discuss what should be asked.

However, Fianna Fáil children’s spokeswomn Anne Rabbitte and Labour counterpart Sean Sherlock both warned they are increasingly concerned there is “more than meets the eye” to the controversy surrounding Scouting Ireland, pointing to tomorrow’s non-appearance as further proof the group is avoiding answering questions.

“In light of the ongoing investigation and our determination to respond to these matters fully and properly with you and your committee, I repeat the willingness of Scouting Ireland to accept the invitation of the committee when the current investigation is concluded.

“But unfortunately it will not be possible in the circumstances I’ve outlined to attend this week,” Mr Lawlor’s letter to the committee read.

It is understood Mr Lawlor contacted committee chair Mr Farrell moments after sending the letter to offer to meet him in private tomorrow, a request which Mr Farrell said he had little option other than to accept.

Mr Farrell said he will speak with individual committee members later today to ask what questions they want raised, and stressed he will insist Mr Lawlor attends a public meeting when the internal Scouting Ireland investigation is concluded at the end of May.

However, Ms Rabbitte and Mr Sherlock both criticised the non-appearance this week, saying there is “more than meets the eye” to the allegations at the volunteer group.

Ms Rabbitte said she wants to know when the audit of historical allegations began in Scouting Ireland, what has been uncovered to date, who launched it, and why there was a delay in referring issues to the State’s child protection body Tusla.

Mr Sherlock added: “I think Scouting Ireland were ill-advised to withdraw from the Dáil committee. It is a little disrespectful to snub the Dáil at this point

.”


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