The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has confirmed today (Friday) that her department will continue to provide funding to Scouting Ireland until the end of April 2020.
The Minister met with officials from Scouting Ireland on Wednesday to get an update on progress that the organisation has made around issues of safeguarding and governance since the last progress report in March 2019. The updated progress report from Scouting Ireland will be available on www.scouts.ie.
The Minister was greatly assured by progress made, which includes the full implementation of all the recommendations from the independent review carried out by Senator Jillian van Turnhout in June 2018; and the near completion of all the actions agreed with Tusla in March 2019.
The Minister is planning to meet again with officials from Scouting Ireland in March 2020. This will allow her and her officials to consider the Review of Historical Sexual Abuse, which is being prepared by safeguarding consultant Ian Elliott, (planned for completion in February 2020). The Minister also requested further updates on the outcome of the ongoing internal disciplinary proceedings, and an update on how Scouting Ireland is progressing towards full compliance with the Charities Governance Code.
The Minister said:
With due regard to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs’ duty of care regarding the public funding provided by her department, she decided in April 2018 to withhold any further funding to Scouting Ireland until such time as she could be satisfied that the organisation’s governance standards were up to the required level.
The Minister commissioned Jillian van Turnhout to carry out a full governance review of Scouting Ireland. Ms. Van Turnhout submitted her completed review in June 2018. Following a commitment by Scouting Ireland to implement fully the recommendations in said review the Minister restored funding from July to end September 2018.
On 22 September 2018 the then Board of Scouting Ireland voted to reinstate the Chief Scout as Chair of the forthcoming EGM. The interim Chair, Ms Annette Byrne and the safeguarding consultant, Mr Ian Elliott, both wrote to the Minister expressing their lack of confidence in the then board. The Minister announced on 27 September that Scouting Ireland’s funding would remain suspended until such time as the then Board was fully replaced.
On 6 October the entire Board stepped down following the EGM and the newly elected Board took over. Meetings took place with the new Chair and the CEO and the Minister wrote to Scouting Ireland on 30 October advising that funding would be restored until the end of April 2019. A full progress report on the implementation of the Jillian van Turnhout recommendations was requested for the end of March 2019.
February 2019 – the department received a copy of a letter written by Tusla to the CEO of Scouting Ireland raising certain concerns
March 2019 - a meeting was held between Tusla and Scouting Ireland, the outcome of which was an agreed Action Plan to address the concerns raised by Tusla.
29 March 2019 - Scouting Ireland furnished the Minister with a full progress report. This included several appendices on safeguarding policies, governance in general, the appointment of the safeguarding manager and the engagement with Tusla. This report was reviewed by officials and the Minister decided to continue to fund Scouting Ireland to the end of 2019 pending a final report from them before the end of October 2019.