Zappone: Past abuse in Scouting Ireland has ruined, and continues to ruin lives

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone says that past abuse in Scouting Ireland has ruined, and continues to ruin lives.

Zappone: Past abuse in Scouting Ireland has ruined, and continues to ruin lives

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone says that past abuse in Scouting Ireland has ruined, and continues to ruin lives.

Dr Zappone told the Dáil that she has has ordered a second review into Scouting Ireland which is due for completion in the New Year.

Speaking during statements on Scouting issues, she said it is 22 months since she became aware of serious issues in relation to the governance of Scouting Ireland.

“The Governance arrangements in Scouting Ireland up to October 2018 were dysfunctional and blinkered,” she said.

The minister said that in response to media reports into the handling of serious allegations, senior members of Scouting Ireland responded inappropriately.

“The then Board of Scouting Ireland, in my opinion, failed in their duty to respond to this behaviour by its senior volunteers. With little confidence in the Board, I suspended State funding. Over the following few weeks, the decision to suspend funding was, sadly, reinforced by the continued poor judgement of the then Board."

The minister ordered former Senator Jillian Van Turnhout to complete a report which set out a pathway for Scouting Ireland to address the shocking deficits in the organisation.

“She submitted her review to me in June 2018 and Scouting Ireland reported to me last month that they have implemented all of these recommendations in full. Ms Van Turnhout is to examine if this has been done comprehensively and she will report back on this early in the New Year,” the Minister said.

Dr Zappone said colleagues in Tusla have informed her that they are satisfied with their engagement with Scouting Ireland. This assurance is critical and will be critical into the future.

TDs were also told that a review conducted by Ian Elliott is expected to be delivered to the minister by February.

“Those that shared their stories on RTÉ Investigates were not given the protections that they should have expected, and have carried the consequences with them into adulthood. The people who abused them are guilty of a heinous crime. Those who should have safeguarded and protected them from the abusers also bear guilt,” she said.

Dr Zappone said that as Minister she has extended public funding to Scouting Ireland until April next year: “Restoration of funding after then will be dependent on certain developments. My officials and I meet very regularly with representatives from both the Board and the Executive of Scouting Ireland."

“I have requested and received regular updates around safeguarding and governance issues in the form of detailed progress reports, all of which have also been shared publicly. We scrutinise these reports very carefully and use our meetings with Scouting Ireland to clarify details in the report,” the minister added.

In her contribution, Fianna Fáil's Anne Rabbitte said the failures exposed in Scouting Ireland are not legacy issues but current ones.

“While I acknowledge there undoubtedly were failures in previous decades highlighted in the RTÉ’s ‘Scouts Dishonour’ programme, but the programme also outlined details of a case that involved an alleged abuser who was reported to the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s but was only removed from Scouting Ireland in 2018. That is not a historical failure, it is current."

“Scouting Ireland’s full review conducted in August 2012 found that no volunteers active in the commissioning organisation in 2012 were found to be named in the legacy files. Based on the information aired on RTÉ, this is not the case. How is it that the alleged abuser was able to continue in his role with Scouting Ireland even though the accusations had been reported in previous decades? Was his file overlooked in 2012 and if so, why?” she said.

Scouting Ireland have provided a breakdown of 401 'Sexual Abuse' files they have in their possession, all of which have been reported to the appropriate authorities, which is reassuring to see, Ms Rabbitte said.

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