Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, Alan Farrell has said Scouting Ireland must answer questions on the reported mishandling in a case of alleged rape, particularly given the organisation is in receipt of State funding.
The Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal said: “I believe Scouting Ireland must be held to account regarding the reported mishandling of a case of alleged rape within the organisation, particularly given that they receive funding from the State.
“I am deeply concerned with reports regarding the allegation of interference in due process in Scouting Ireland, and the claims that inadequate safeguarding and child protection practices may exist in organisations which work with children and young people.
“While I am confident that the policy contained within Scouting Ireland’s ‘Code of Good Practice’ is robust, it is only effective if adhered to in its entirety. The fact that Scouting Ireland’s policies in this case may have been subject to interference is appalling.
“It is my belief that, perhaps, we should examine the possibility of introducing a system whereby a thorough analysis of safeguarding practices is undertaken prior to such bodies being eligible to receive funding or investment from the State.
“It has been reported that the person who is alleged to have committed a rape within the organisation was not officially Garda vetted prior to returning to his role, as had been recommended by An Garda Síochána. If this is the case, it is shocking!
“No person should be in a position to work with young people without having to undergo Garda vetting. Where Gardaí recommend the vetting process be undertaken prior to an individual returning to a position, it is, in my opinion, wholly irresponsible to disregard this advice.
“With 40,000 juvenile members in Scouting Ireland, I believe they have a duty to address this matter, not only due to the fact they receive State funding, but most importantly for parents, guardians, and young people themselves, given their duty of care to the minors within the organisation.
“As Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, I will be engaging with my Committee colleagues to invite Scouting Ireland before us to address these serious concerns, and answer our questions. The Chief Executive of the organisation has given me an undertaking that he will facilitate such a request.
“Child protection must be the foremost concern of every organisation which works with young people. Where such organisations receive funding from our State, which is essentially taxpayers’ money, they must also be answerable to the Oireachtas,” the Fine Gael TD said.