Support for candidate forced to pull out of election for chief scout

Ireland’s scouting organisation says it “fully supports” its member who pulled out of the running for the association’s top job due to a threatening email.

Earlier this week Kiernan Gildea revealed that he had received an anonymous message on the eve of Scouting Ireland’s National Council last April, at which he was due to contest the election of a new chief scout.

“Insinuations and threats were made in the email, which put into question my suitability to be an adult in scouting. There was even a reference to my professional life,” Mr Gildea, who is gay, told the Irish Scouter website.

Jimmy Cunningham, national secretary of Scouting Ireland, said the organisation is fully inclusive, multi-denominational, and does not condone the actions that led to Mr Gildea withdrawing from the election.

“These matters are a cause of great regret to everyone who upholds the values of Scouting Ireland,” said Mr Cunningham.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms bullying of any sort and we have robust procedures in place to protect, as far as we possibly can, all our members,” he said.

Mr Gildea told the Irish Scouter that the incident caused “a physical and mental breakdown.”

“The message triggered a flood of bad feelings about myself and convinced me that I was letting everyone in my life down in the most hurtful way and that the principles that I strive to live by were all a lie,” he said.

“I had no time to think straight — I had collapsed — and it was only a few hours to voting,” Mr Gildea said.

Mr Cunningham said Scouting Ireland has established an internal review of the events, and that it has previously urged Mr Gildea to report the email to gardaí.

“We are very pleased that Kiernan is recovering his health and wish him well in the future. He continues to be a valued member of Scouting Ireland and he continues to have our full support,” Mr Cunningham said.

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